July 20, 2020
Birch G. Wright, MPA
Chief Operating Officer and Administrator,
Washington Regional Medical System
Northwest Arkansas is in the midst of a prolonged surge in the number of individuals who require
hospitalization for COVID-19, and Washington Regional has experienced a steady increase in the number
of individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 since early May. Last week, we implemented an initial phase of
our surge capacity plan and opened a third critical care unit devoted to the care of COVID-19
patients. However, we have never reached our capacity or been concerned that we were about to reach
our capacity. Our request for assistance from the National Guard, which we are grateful to Governor
Hutchinson for approving, is simply to obtain some support that will permit us to assign nursing staff who
have been performing clerical functions to the bedside, which in turn will provide our clinical care nursing
staff, who have been tirelessly working for many months, with some much-needed rest.
In addition to the request we have made of the National Guard, we have posted positions for additional
staff and asked our community health care partners for individuals with critical care experience to work on
an as needed basis in Washington Regional’s critical care units.
About Washington Regional:
Washington Regional is the only not-for-profit, community-owned and locally governed healthcare system in Northwest Arkansas.
Its comprehensive healthcare network consists of a 425-bed medical center and more than 55 clinic locations. Washington
Regional is committed to improving the health of people in communities it serves through compassionate, high-quality care,
prevention and wellness education.