Valley mayors await on approval to use hotels to help free beds at hospitals
Local and state officials are keeping an eye on hospitalizations in the Rio Grande Valley going up. They’re considering solutions to clear beds at health facilities.
“People that are recovering in hospital beds, where people that are coming down with worse symptoms, there ought to be some sort of accommodation if we have space already,” said McAllen Mayor Jim Darling. “As opposed to spending a whole bunch of money on retrofitting areas in the hospital that may have to go back to whatever they were doing before.”
Mayors of Edinburg, Mission, McAllen and Pharr are looking within to see how they can reduce the number of people hospitalized. Darling confirmed some possible sites include two hotels in McAllen near the convention center.
Hotels in Pharr are also part of the proposal, though the sites will be chosen factoring in distance.
“It makes no difference whether they're in McAllen, Pharr, Edinburg, Mission or Weslaco — makes no difference. It's where the residents are coming from. They want to be near their homes,” said Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez, mayor of Pharr.
Whichever hotel is selected, there will have to be some sanitation upgrades.
“You have to treat it like a health care facility. That's priority number one,” said Mayor Hernandez. “So, that means all universal precautions need to be handled from cleaning to distancing, to the people that are coming to take care of these patients, they need to have PPE. The cleaners, the janitors, those who come to service the rules — everybody needs to follow the rules.”
The proposal set forward last week is pending approval from Hidalgo County and the state. As time goes on, Darling says the options are becoming limited.
“I know we're talking to the state about possible hotel availability. With all the new hospital workers that came down kind of changed that discussion a little bit, because there's not as many hotel rooms there was before,” Darling said.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) funding to cover the expenses for these sites will come from either the cities' or the county’s reserves. That still needs to be determined.
Mayor Darling says they anticipate knowing whether this plan will be put into action later on in the week.