HOUSTON — The Texas Medical Center moved into "Phase 2" of its medical and ICU bed capacity plan Wednesday as the latest numbers show 100 percent of the base level ICU beds across hospitals are occupied.
Thirty-six (36) percent of those ICU patients have COVID-19, according to data from the TMC.
This surge in cases is testing hospitals: Houston paramedics report hundreds of instances when they have waited more than an hour to transfer a patient from the ambulance to the emergency room, a process they say typically takes about half that time.
“They haven’t given us a reason why it’s taking longer," said Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña. "We've noticed a 20 percent increase in the time it’s taking just to give a report to the patient."
Those delays have happened hundreds of times at hospitals all over Houston.
Medical Center leaders have repeatedly said there are ample beds available, even to handle a surge in COVID-19 cases.
“For the next two weeks, we are nowhere close to being trouble," said Dr. James McDeavitt, senior vice president and dean of Clinical Affairs for Baylor College of Medicine. “Moving into Phase 2 is not a bad thing. That’s an expected thing, and hospitals can manage well within that Phase 2.”
McDeavitt advises Med Center leaders on bed space and staffing, helping place physicians where they are needed.
People on social media wonder if adequate staffing at the hospitals is an issue.
Memorial Hermann, Houston Methodist, and St. Luke's are all hiring for hundreds of open clinical positions across their systems.
Memorial Hermann and Methodist spokespeople said they each have about 500 open clinical positions.
A St. Luke's spokesperson said they are currently hiring for 800 clinical and non-clinical positions statewide.
Click here for jobs at Memorial Hermann
Click here for jobs at Houston Methodist
Click here for jobs at CHI St. Luke'S Health
Memorial Hermann, Methodist, and St. Luke's are all hiring temporary or contract workers to fill gaps.
"We routinely contract with agencies who provide temporary or contract workers to fill staffing gaps when we have needs due to openings, and we are doing that today. However, that is a normal part of our operations regardless of the current pandemic," said a Memorial Hermann spokesperson.
"We are actively recruiting in and hiring people from many states. We also contract with companies that provide temporary contract workers (primarily nurses) that are obtained from other states," said a Methodist spokesperson.
As hospitals increase staffing, equipment, and beds to meet the critical care demands, doctors are pleading with the public to wear a mask and stay at least six feet away from people when out in public, and frequently wash their hands.
“We’re really concerned because even the largest medical city in the world has its limits," said Texas Medical Center CEO William McKeon. "The only way it spreads is by us, and the only we way shut it down is by us shutting it down."
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