The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has deployed a Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) to help support the influx of COVID-19 patients at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo. DMAT is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services’ National Disaster Medical System (NDMS), which helps communities respond to and recover from public health emergencies and disasters. The 33 team members include doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, paramedics, respiratory therapists and pharmacists who will help relieve the pressure on NMMC staff. The team can treat up to 24 patients at a time in an inpatient unit or in the NMMC emergency department, where there has recently been a backlog of admitted patients waiting for a hospital bed to be available. The NMMC has both regular rooms and intensive care rooms, but like many other hospitals, there are not enough staff to staff them. âThe people we take care of are our families, friends, neighbors and colleagues. Over the past week we have transparently shared that we are very challenged to provide the highest level of care due to the number of patients and our resource capacity, âsaid Jeremy Blanchard, MD, physician -Head of Health Services for Northern Mississippi. âWe welcome DMAT to Tupelo and appreciate their support to our community. “This is my 14th deployment to help with COVID-19,” said Mark Thorpe, RN, EMT-P, DMAT team commander. âOur team has enormous experience in treating COVID-19 patients and is happy to be here at the NMMC. We thank the hospital management and all the staff for the extremely warm welcome we received. The aid is temporary: the NDMS team is hired for two weeks in Tupelo. After 14 days, the state can submit a request for additional support, if necessary. The Mississippi State Department of Health, in partnership with the Governor’s Office, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, and the NMMC, has requested assistance from the US Department of Health and Human Services. The federal government covers the costs. “We greatly appreciate the high level of attention and collaboration among federal and state officials and departments to support us during this time of great need,” Shane Spees, CEO of North Mississippi Health Services. âOur staff are dedicated and will continue to do everything they can, but they can’t do everything. They’re thin now, âDavid Wilson, president of NMMC-Tupelo. âWe need the help of the community. We appreciate DMAT, but we really need to address the problem at the source and make our community understand how the decisions they make impact others. Vaccination is the only way out of this pandemic. Unfortunately, Mississippi is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, driven by the transmission of the Delta variant primarily among the unvaccinated. Almost all hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated. From July 1 to August 1. 11, 92.4% of COVID-19 patients admitted to NMHS were not vaccinated. Today (August 18), the NMMC-Tupelo and other northern Mississippi health service hospitals are treating 89 COVID-19 patients.