CROSSETT, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) — With the number of people testing positive in Ashley County, the medical center will be taking its own precautions to keep everyone inside and outside of the hospital safe.

Medical staff at the Ashley County Medical Center decided late Sunday night to postpone all elective surgeries temporarily.

“We’re doing this voluntarily. There are some other hospitals in the state that have chosen to do this as well. We’re doing everything we can to save a life,” ACMC’s Chief Executive Officer, Phillip Gilmore said.

Governor Asa Hutchinson along with the Arkansas Department of Health issued a state directive for hospitals and clinics in late March to reschedule elective surgeries that could safely be postponed. Governor Huchinson began to ease some of those restrictions late April.

However, in recent months the state has seen record numbers in positive cases and hospitalizations.

As of Monday evening, The Arkansas Department of Health reported 1,112 new cases making a new total of 157, 359 cases. There are 1, 063 hospitaltized which is a new record for hospitalizations in Arkansas.

Ashley County currently has 100 confirmed active cases of the coronavirus, 22 probable active cases and 860 total cumulative cases. There have been 14 deaths.

“In the northern part of our state, there was a big surge months ago,” Gilmore said. “We’re seeing that filter down to this area. Even though we are more rural and more sparsely populated, we’re seeing the numbers pick up and that’s concerning. We want to be very cautious of what we’re doing.”

Gilmore and his staff thought postponing elective surgeries would be the best option for the protection of patients and especially the staff who have been on the frontlines of this virus since March.

“We’re seeing a surge pickup and we want to be careful in the use of our staff. This is very tiring for them,” he said.

“We want to make sure that we are helping them as much as possible. We have some nurses that our out for various reasons. We are very cautious about our staff and we want them to take the measures they need to be protected.”

Gilmore is a member of Governor Hutchinson’s Witner Covid-19 Taskforce. This group of appointed 19 physicians, state officials, and health care executives were selected to advise Governor Hutchinson as the state combats the likely additional challenges of the pandemic this winter.

The taskforce consists of four sub-committees. Gilmore is chairman of a committee that ensures the public is complying with the health guidelines.

“You can never communicate enough people but it is important because people still aren’t wearing masks,” he said. “This virus is present and deadly.”

Gilmore encourages the community to follow those basic precautions in keeping your hands washed, social distancing and wearing a mask. He also urges businesses to screen employees to limit the spread.

In preparation for a surge, ACMC took 8 beds from its geriatric phsychiatry unit and converted those into an intensive care unit. The hospital already had 6 ICU beds now making a total of 14 beds to be used in treatment for patients with the coronavirus.

“Currently we have a number of patients in our four bed ICU. We are still reserving the 8 bed unit,” Gilmore said.

Emergency surgeries will continue and medical staff will keep a daily track of the progress of the spread of the virus to determine when it is safe to resume elective surgeries.

Gilmore says the hospital has made renovations and modifications to how patients enter and exit the hospital so that they do not come into contact with the rest of the hospital and particulary a patient being treated for the virus.