River Region cites high census in first days

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 19, 2002

[02/19/02]Winter, elective surgeries and curiosity have taken a high number of people to River Region Medical Center during the hospital’s first two days, but did not overload it, hospital officials said.

“We have a very high census count,” Diane Gawronski, director of marketing and public relations for the hospital, said this morning. “But we are not full to capacity.”

Reports Monday afternoon and evening were that there was a backlog in the emergency room and that people were being told the hospital was full.

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Gawronski said February always brings a high number of patients experiencing respiratory problems. “People are sick at this time,” she said.

There were also six mothers in active labor on Sunday, double the average number, she said. Ten babies had been born in the hospital during its first 48 hours.

When River Region Medical Center opened at 7 a.m. Sunday on U.S. 61 North, 105 patients were moved by ambulance. ParkView Regional Medical Center on Grove Street was shut down as a hospital and Vicksburg Medical Center on North Frontage was converted to other uses.

Since then, people have been arriving with illnesses and for elective surgeries that had been delayed until after the transition period.

While River Region now has 179 beds, the number will rise to 215 when additional construction is completed later this year.

Hospital executives said they expected the first few days would be busy and they have been.

The new emergency room, accepting patients who had gone to two sites previously, has also been busy since Sunday. Gawronski encouraged people who could be better treated by their physicians to avoid the emergency room.

Gawronski said, though, that there was enough room in the E.R. and said the hospital would not turn anyone away.

“Things are fine,” said Sandy Redditt, emergency room director. “We are seeing what we usually see.”