Austin, Texas – Some hospitals, lacking heat or water, immediately rush to move their most seriously ill patients elsewhere. Other hospitals were overflowing with patients injured in the winter storm or became ill during it, they were placed in the hallway. In one hospital, the pipe burst, sending a sprinkling of water through the emergency room, while in another, the patients had to clean themselves with a hand cleanser and stop the shower in a desperate bid to conserve water Was asked for
There were chaotic scenes going on throughout Texas on Thursday as hospitals were facing problems Brutal storm: Spike in emergency room visits by patients with wintry indoor temperatures, a shortage of generators, acute water shortages and dialysis treatment and in dire need of oxygen tanks.
“We’re living in water on trucks to flush toilets,” said Roberta L. Schwartz, an executive vice president and chief innovation officer at Houston Methodist, which operates seven hospitals around the nation’s fourth-largest city. The water, he said, was in such short supply that health workers were using bottled water for chemotherapy treatment.
“We actually had a thunderstorm after the snowstorm, so we collected rainwater because we needed it,” Ms. Schwartz said.
The tumor comes at an already alarming turn for hospitals in Texas, an epidemic that has dragged many people to their limits in about a year. While new coronovirus cases in Texas have fallen from less than half to an average of more than 20,000 a month ago, in recent times, the state has been struggling a lot as the virus has continued to spread and vaccine delivery has slowed down. Storm of the week.
The Odessa, Eagle Pass and Huntsville areas are reporting new virus cases at some of the highest rates in the country. And state officials have warned that the number of cases this week was likely to be artificially low due to reporting gaps during the storm. In Travis County, which also includes Austin, officials had not provided new case data since last Friday and said they did not expect to do so until the weekend, citing the storm’s impact on their employees.
Hospitals such as St. David’s South Austin Medical Center said they were transferring some patients to other facilities because they were desperately trying to conserve resources. St. David’s Healthcare Chief Executive Officer David Huffstutler said in a statement that the hospital was working to obtain water trucks and portable toilets as soon as possible.
In Dallas, after a pipe burst at Bayrel University Medical Center, spraying water directly into the emergency room collapsed parts of the roof. Hospital spokeswoman Julie Smith said the workers had undergone initial repairs that allowed patients to continue treatment there.
The scene took place in a situation where healthcare workers have been grappling with recurring crises in recent years: hurricanes. Flooding. Tropical Storm. Blackout. The epidemic increases.
Dr. Sarah Olstein Martinez, an emergency room doctor at an Austin hospital Clearly described the situation On Facebook: “There is no where to put anyone.”
Dr. Martinez wrote, “I don’t want to provoke panic, but I also want people to understand the seriousness of the situation that people will stay at home.” In the hall. “
Dr. “I have never seen the city’s medical system in such a strict system as we are in Austin right now,” Martinez said. “The COVID increase was nothing compared to the current situation.”
In a telephone interview, Drs. Martinez said his hospital was running with skeletal staff. Some are staying in hospitals, doctors and nurses said, “whoever is sleeping in an open nook.”
Some of the challenges Texas hospitals face have been associated with the problems of cascading through the state’s health care system since the storm and the power grid crisis. The influx of dialysis patients, for example, is causing stress in hospital emergency rooms because many dialysis centers – which require electricity, heat and large amounts of filtered water to provide proper care – are temporarily Are closed.
At one of Houston Methodist’s hospitals, doctors transformed an old intensive care unit into a temporary dialysis unit, transferring 42 patients out of tight emergency rooms on Wednesday. And in parts of East Texas, health care workers have been getting so worried about patients going without dialysis treatment in the past week that they are asking local police departments to conduct a welfare check.
“It could be a death sentence for some of our patients,” said Cara McLure, a social worker in the Tyler area. He said dialysis clinics in Tyler, Athens and Palestine were closed due to water shortages, and a clinic in Jacksonville closed because staff members could not reach the site. Even area hospitals are struggling with water shortages which can complicate dialysis treatment.
“This is a massive system failure, and it is massive,” Ms. McClure said. “I’m worried that people are about to die.”
Federal officials were pledging assistance on Thursday. Homeland Security Adviser for President Biden Liz Sherwood-Randall told reporters that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was supplying 60 generators to important sites such as hospitals and water facilities, and sending 729,000 liters of water and 50,000 cotton blankets to the state was.
Nevertheless, some doctors in Texas cautioned that the situation could be worse, with the risk associated with Kovid-19 likely to increase as the state tries to recover from the storm. According to the Kovid tracking project, about 7,600 coronovirus patients were hospitalized statewide on Wednesday, down from around 14,000 in mid-January.
Although Texas avoided the worst pandemic since last spring, the state has often struggled since then. Case numbers spread last summer and again in the fall and early winter. The Eagle Pass, Lubbock and Laredo regions are among the five metropolitan areas in the country with the highest rates of known cases during the epidemic.
As of Thursday, about 10.6 percent of Texans had received at least one dose of the coronovirus vaccine and about 4.3 percent had been fully vaccinated, lower than the national average in both metrics but not among the minimum performers.
In Laredo on the Mexico border, cardiologist Dr. Ricardo Sigaroa, who has moved Treating coronavirus patients During the epidemic, vaccine delivery was delayed by about a week due to problems associated with the failure of the power grid.
The storm also increased the risk. Many people were resting, he said, warmly to each other. “But Kovid loves,” Dr. Sigaroa said.
David Montgomery Reported from Austin, and Simon romero From Albuquerque. Reporting was contributed by Mitch Smith From Chicago, James dobins From San Antonio, and Marina Trehan Martinez And Richard Weber from Austin. Sheilagh McNeill contributed to the research.