Hospital gives update as area COVID-19 cases surge
Stephens Memorial Hospital CEO Brian Roland gave a COVID-19 update Friday, speaking about limited ICU bed capacity around the state. Stephens County officials enacted Stage 4 restrictions at the end of July, after a spike in area COVID-19 cases. This is the second highest stage of the five-stage Community Health Plan created last July in conjunction with SMH and the city of Breckenridge.
SMH posted an update on their Facebook Friday, Aug. 13, regarding the COVID-19 statistics in the county as well. Since the last update provided from the hospital Aug. 6, two additional deaths have occurred, bringing the total number as of Friday to 28 deaths. The total number of active COVID-19 patients has also doubled from the last update from 12 to 25, but there are zero reported COVID-19-related hospitalizations.
“First and foremost I want people to understand, one of our first priorities is making sure that our patients, our employees and our community are kept safe. That is our number one priority. We are open for business. We are taking all the precautions necessary to take care of our patients and to take care of our staff and our community,” Roland said Friday.
According to Stephens County, Stage 4 restrictions recommend members of the community observe social distancing, urge mask wearing regardless of vaccination status, encourage proper hand hygiene and recommend no unnecessary travel. According to a Facebook post made by the county Friday, July 30, the county is not on lockdown or enforcing a mask order, but local health authorities strongly recommend the wearing of masks to limit the spread of the virus, something Roland voiced again Friday.
“While I encourage folks to go out and get vaccinated and wear masks, because we have proven that masks will work here in the state of Texas, you also have to look at some of the other key numbers that play into this,” Roland said. “While we get told every day the number of positive cases, the number of people that have died, we get told the number of vaccines that are given, what I really look at from my standpoint is what hospital beds are available for the patients that could possibly need them. And I am not just talking about COVID patients because right now in the state of Texas there’s over 10,000 COVID patients in our hospitals and that’s up from 3,500 just in the last three weeks. And the challenge that we run into is, not just COVID patients having problems, but it could be a stroke, it could be a heart attack, it could be an automobile accident (and) what do we do with you when that happens. ... While COVID plays a big role in this, where do we send you when these things happen.”
The CEO said the hospital is currently having to send patients to areas such as New Mexico, Oklahoma and Amarillo. He said other rural hospitals have had to make up to 60 phone calls to figure out where to send their patients.
“And a lot of that is driven by the COVID beds, ICU beds, not being available,” Roland said. “When you look at north Texas, whether it is east or west of us, there are no ICU beds available at this time and in those ICU beds, 90% of those patients are COVID and are unvaccinated. Now again, I am not telling you to go out and get vaccinated, but think about the process, talk to your provider, talk to your friends. You know, everybody has an opinion.
If you look out on Facebook, everybody wants you to know their thoughts on the vaccine. At the end of the day, you need to talk to your provider and see what is that provider telling you to do based on your current health condition. We do the COVID vaccines here at our clinic. We also do COVID testing. So if you need either one of those, do not hesitate to call our clinic at 254-559-3363, and get tested.”
The CEO encouraged those who want information to search out the information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other sources, but to take care of themselves and their family especially as school and other activities are approaching.
“When you look at the numbers that are out there right now, especially the age group 20-49, those are the ones that are in the hospital. And even pediatrics, 97% of the pediatric beds in north Texas are no longer available because those beds are full. Eighty-six percent of the beds in the state of Texas are full of patients right now,” Roland said. “Our goal is for you not to be a statistic because we couldn’t get you where you needed to be to be taken care of.”