As Valley hospitals reach capacity, facilities scramble to add medical personnel

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Local health authorities have been repeating it several times for the past weeks, hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley are constantly at capacity.

However, even though health facilities are opening more spaces for the increasing number of COVID-19 patients, many times there hasn't been enough medical personnel.

"I can't even remember the last time that our emergency department at the hospital went on diversion," said Cris Rivera, president of Río Grande Regional Hospital.

"Right now, people are waiting a long time," said Leslie Bingham, president of Valley Baptist Hospital

Bingham apologized earlier this week for the long wait times at their emergency rooms, where many people have left without seeing a doctor.

"Hospital beds and hospital census changes from day to day, hour to hour," said Hillary Watt, executive president of the Coastal Bend Regional Advisory Council.

According to Watt, local hospitals are receiving more and more patients with COVID-19, putting hospitals at risk of not being able to receive patients with other medical emergencies.

"We're working to max them out with staffing so that they can staff ever single bed that they have, which is going to increase capacity," Watt said.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has been able to send nurses, respiratory therapists, nurse aides and pharmacy technicians to the valley.

All have been contracted through a non-profit called BCFS. The same company that was in charge of the child migrant detention center in Tornillo, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border and El Paso.

"Everything opened up and everybody thought it was back to normal," Watt said. "And its not back to normal"


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