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More hospital beds coming to the River Valley as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

Governor Asa Hutchinson says that the state will create two alternative care sites for additional hospital bed space for COVID-19 patients in Arkansas.

VAN BUREN, Ark. — Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday (Dec. 22) that the state will create two alternative care sites for additional hospital bed space for COVID-19 patients in partnership with Baptist Health. 

The facilities will add a total of 124 new beds for COVID-19 patients. 

One in Litle Rock will be on the Baptist Health campus and will be able to hold 50 patients while one in Van Buren will be able to hold 74 patients. The 74 beds in the Van Buren facility will include eight ICU beds.  

The Little Rock location will take about 4-5 weeks to build and the Van Buren site will take about 6-8 weeks.

“This is important because even though it’s going to take some time to build out we have to be ready with whatever comes in January," Gov. Hutchinson said. "It is my hope that we will build this out and we will not have to utilize those beds for COVID patients but it is prudent upon me as governor to make sure we have that adequate space if the need arises.”

The state is teaming up with Baptist Health and the sites will be managed by COVIDcomm systems.

The facilities will cost an estimated $7.4 million. Governor Hutchinson says they expect FEMA to cover 80% of the cost and the state will cover the other 20%.

The Winter COVID Task Force recommended adding the additional sites to help relieve COVID-19 hospitalizations. 

The governor said they are still looking into additional staffing for the facilities. 

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