Valley hospitals adding wards to handle coronavirus patient capacity
Rio Grande Valley hospitals hope for help from the state dealing with over capacity and resources.
They're working on their own plans to meet the growing need for bed space
While COVID cases are going up, resources are diminishing.
The supply and demand economic principle applies during this pandemic. but the consequences of an imbalance can be fatal.
DHR Health created a second ward to increase their capacity.
"But we are doing what we can on our campus to be able to meet the need. We're converting, for example, our Outpatient Rehabilitation Unit, is being converted to a COVID Serious Infectious Disease Unit, " says Dr. Carlos J. Cardenas, DHR chairman of the board.
They are adding two more wards. One is expected to be complete by the end of the month and the other the second week of August.
Expanding has its challenges.
“We work very hard at creating negative pressure environments, bringing medical gas availability in all of the infrastructure that we need to properly care for our patients,” says Dr. Cardenas.
When they're done, they'll have a total of 272 beds available to treat COVID-19 patients.
While they wait, they're working on the other shortage... staffing.
Cardenas said they're on that, too.
In Cameron County, Valley Baptist is facing the same challenges.
Dr. Jamil Madi, the ICU Medical Director, says they keep growing.
"We continue to expand beds, units, and staff. We started off with one area, and we expanded to other areas,“ explains Dr. Madi.
More patients meant they need more resources.
"We are okay with the ventilators right now. It's critical. We were at capacity. We have reached out to multiple aid groups, to administration and to corporate. And, we are getting more ventilators."
Both Brownsville and Harlingen are expecting more ventilators.
Even as it is, not everyone who could be in the hospital is going.
Turnaround times have increased across the board.
Quest Diagnostics -- a private medical lab -- reported the wait as long as "7 or more days."
In a press release they stated "This is not just a quest issue. the surge in COVID-19 cases affects the laboratory industry as a whole."
Even if you don't have your results back, monitor your symptoms.
“If you have symptoms and signs suggestive of COVID including shortness of breath, cough and fever, that you seek attention. Go to the urgency room, or the emergency room, or satellite emergency centers out there so they can have you evaluated,” says Dr. Madi.
Hospitals will continue working to make space, but they ask the public to do their part.
“They can help us with this. They have the tools to help us put a lid back on this, and that's by staying home, not congregating which means, don't have a pachanga,” adds Dr. Cardenas.