The person in charge of the hospital said that the man who arrived at the Childress emergency room earlier this month did not have COVID-19, but he did have a serious abdominal disease that required surgery.
Holly Holcomb, chief operating officer of Childress Regional Medical Center, said the man waited more than nine hours in the emergency room, while doctors called eight larger hospitals to see if they could perform surgery. She said they refused to accept the patient and the man died.
Holcomb’s hospital is located near the border of Oklahoma, between Wichita Falls and Amarillo. He said: “I’ve been here for 24 years, I just don’t remember the past The patient cannot be transferred out.”
Country doctors and hospital administrators in West Texas and Panhandle said that because the large hospitals in Lubbock, Amarillo, and El Paso are full of coronavirus patients, they are in trouble, and smaller institutions cannot transfer severe illnesses. Patients come to receive a higher level of care.
Texas is experiencing its second coronavirus hospitalization, which has risen by more than 75% since the beginning of October. On October 28, more than 5,600 people in Texas hospitals suffered from COVID-19, a condition that has not been seen since August. In August, the state experienced a group of patients, pushing some hospitals in South Texas to the limit.
The situation in El Paso has surged recently. Leaders recently converted the conference center into an emergency medical facility to provide more hospital beds. The beds have been overrun and some patients have been airlifted out of the city.
In Labbock, Texas Tech University reported more student infections than any other university in the state, and doctors warned that the hospital was full.
In Amarillo, dozens of nurses had to miss shifts recently because they were either infected by the coronavirus or quarantined due to exposure, which made the hospital beds very thin.
However, the consequences of the “falling wave” of the rapidly developing coronavirus pandemic in Texas have extended far beyond those distant cities. Rural communities around the plains and arid regions of Texas were unable to resist the spread of the virus, and many small towns reported record highs of coronavirus cases this month.
Even in rural counties that have not yet seen a surge in infections, health care workers warn that the spread of the virus may threaten the health of patients in any emergency situations in their lives: heart disease, stroke, car wreckage.
John Henderson, chief executive officer of the Texas Rural and Community Hospital Organization, said that less than half of the state’s rural hospitals perform operations or deliveries. As city hospitals fill up, this puts pressure on smaller institutions to find beds for patients in crisis.
Henderson said: “When you are a small hospital located in a remote rural area, it becomes very difficult for patients not only to be staffed but also beyond the scope of service capacity.” “The rural hospital is trying to solve this problem, but For most West Texas, Southern Plains and Panhandle, this is more difficult than it is now.”
Holcomb said that in Childress, the hospital’s six-bed emergency room has been stretched very thin, and medical staff asked patients with COVID-19 symptoms to wait in the car if possible. She said: “They are either stacked in the waiting room or outside the parking lot.”
Doctors in small towns in Texas reported that due to insufficient beds in the intensive care unit of large hospitals, emergency patients had to be detained in emergency rooms and ambulances for eight hours or more. Many people say they have to find specialist care hundreds of miles away, sometimes even across state boundaries.
Dr. Robert Hancock works in several hospitals in Texas and Oklahoma and is the dean of the Texas College of Emergency Medicine. He said that one of the hospitals recently admitted a COVID-19 patient who has many other medical problems and needs specialized care.
“We have called every hospital in Oklahoma that has the capabilities we need, every hospital system in Dallas-Fort Worth; Little Rock, Arkansas; Wichita Falls, Lubbock Amarillo”, Hankow K said.
He said: “In about eight hours, everyone told us’no’.” “We eventually had to keep patients and use the resources we had to do our best.”
As winter approaches, icy roads and the threat of flu season also follow. Coupled with the increase in coronavirus infections, the leaders of Eastland Memorial Hospital, located near Interstate 20 between Fort Worth and Abilene, have prepared for a four-month busy schedule.
The hospital’s chief executive Ted Matthews said: “In Eastland, almost everyone is here,” and the county’s COVID-19 cases have “almost reached the highest level in history” . Matthews said there are fewer than 20,000 residents in Eastland County, and there are an average of about 50 active infections and contacts that require isolation every day.
The hospital transfers approximately 45 patients every month, and Matthews said he has been paying close attention to the medical capacity of nearby cities. So far, this is not a threat, but a more pressing issue: his own employee has fallen ill with COVID-19.
He said: “Currently, we are taking care of our community, but this has always been a problem with the number of employees we need, so when we lose two or three very good nurses, we will do our best.”
Jerry Jasper, chief executive of Brownfield Medical Center, about 40 miles southwest of Lubbock, said the hospital’s service capacity is the most pressing problem facing his community.
This 18-bed hospital is struggling to cope with the influx of its own COVID-19 patients. Jasper said that the doctors and nurses there can take care of those patients, except those who need ventilators. However, uncertainty about whether Lubbock Hospital can accept referral patients makes it difficult to plan an emergency.
He said: “If there is a certain situation that needs to be transferred from the scope of what we can provide, it will be very worrying.”
In Deaf Smith County, which borders New Mexico to the southwest of Amarillo, the shortage of beds in nearby cities shocked local officials. The county is home to a beef processing plant, several interstate highways and a short stretch of Interstate 40.
“I have issued a very terrible warning to our community, and I am worried that we will be in a difficult situation so that it will be difficult to find a place to transfer anyone,” said Jeff Barnhart, the county chief executive. Hospital area. “We have been sitting on ICU patients for four to five days because we have nowhere to report.”
When possible, he has airlifted patients to Dallas, Fort Worth, Albuquerque and even Oklahoma City, but he is worried that there will be no helicopters to travel on this day.
He said: “I’m afraid I will drive an ambulance on the road soon. It will be a 16-hour journey.”
Disclosure: Texas College of Emergency Physicians and Texas Tech University have been financial supporters of the Texas Tribune, a non-profit, non-partisan news organization, part of which is funded by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters do not play a role in the news of the Tribune. Find a complete list of them here.