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Arkansas doctor says more nurses a top priority for hospitals as COVID-19 surge

With the state under another public health emergency, Gov. Hutchinson is looking to send help. Dr. Ahmad Yousaf said the state's biggest need is nurses.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — With the state under another public health emergency due to surging COVID-19 cases, the governor is looking to send help.

Dr. Ahmad Yousaf, a hospitalist, said the greatest need right now is nurses.

“Primarily, nurses would be number one," Yousaf said. "If there was a way to recruit nurses and come to the state and help, that’s what we need."  

Yousaf is the CEO of Rock Medical Group. He's a hospitalist who rotates through different intensive care units in central Arkansas.

He's seen it all through this fight against COVID-19.

As more people are contracting the virus, he hopes the 'Surge Team' that Gov. Asa Hutchinson has requested will bring in more help to aid with the overcrowded hospitals.

"We are seeing very young people without a large medical list coming to the hospital very sick, put on very high levels of oxygen, requiring long-term hospitalizations, ventilators, and even dying,” Yousaf said.

He said many nurses in COVID-19 care are feeling the burnout, ultimately trying to keep their heads above water.

"What we are seeing right now is an exaggerated version of that staffing shortage especially in central Arkansas where nurses have been working overtime and do amazingly heroic things," Yousaf said. "So we are seeing that burnout with a limited work supply."

Dr. Yousaf urges the Surge Team to also bring educational resources to Arkansas.

He believes touching base in more parts of the state will help increase education about the virus and the vaccine, which could help provide relief.

"Education to local communities and local community centers: the places where communities gather," Yousaf said. "And how to find a way to best get them to places that have available vaccines. We have the vaccines.”

For those that haven't yet, Dr. Yousaf encourages people to get the vaccine. When it becomes available for children under 12, he encourages those kids to immediately receive it as well.