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Houston's hospitals working to prepare for expected surge in COVID-19 patients

Hospitals are taking the necessary steps to prepare for a possible surge of patients. They're freeing up beds, securing ventilators and purchasing more PPE.

HOUSTON — Houston's hospitals are already taking the necessary steps to prepare for a possible surge of COVID-19 patients.

At a news conference Tuesday, Methodist Hospital CEO Marc Boom represented the Texas Medical Center hospitals. He said all hospitals in the TMC are working together daily to make sure they're all sharing ideas and are coordinating efforts. They're doing what they can to free up beds and secure ventilators as well as gather personal protective gear for personnel.

“We are making sure we only do those cases where they absolutely need to do something now. For us, surgery volumes have been decreased by 70-plus percent,” Boom said.

Boom said each hospital has a plan in place and Methodist has turned an ICU unit into a COVID-19 unit.

They’ve also done more at one of their other facilities.

“We created a very specific COVID- 19 unit on the west side of town. This was something that was started a few years ago with the Ebola scare. And we were able to ramp up very quickly,” Boom said.

Boom also said TMC hospitals are actively purchasing ventilators. If needed, Methodist Hospital will get creative with what they have.

“We all have Anastasia machines that ventilate patients during surgeries. Those machines can be converted relatively easily. And if we need to get creative, we can use one ventilator for two patients -- if we have too,” Boom said.

So what can you do to help?

Of course, staying out of hospitals if you don’t need to be there is a way to help. Also, if you must, limit the number of visitors to one.

If you have an appointment, try to schedule them via telehealth.

“We will take everything from prayers to donations of PPE. But really, the main message (is) 'Help us by doing your part and staying at home heeding to the advice,'” Boom said.

Hospitals are actively trying to secure as much personal protective equipment to meet a surge in the demand, through suppliers and donations.

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