As COVID-19 Hospitalizations rise in El Paso, More resources sent to hospitals

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The number of people being hospitalized for COVID-19 in El Paso has been rising over the past few weeks.

Currently, 415 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in El Paso with 116 in ICU. While the number of hospitalizations has gone up, we are still nowhere near where we were during our peak COVID-19 hospitalizations back in 2020.

On November 12, 2020, 1,148 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in El Paso County. The date we reached the highest number of people in the ICU was on November 17, 2020, when 325 were in ICU.

Even with the lower, year-to-year levels, officials with the Border Advisory Council (Border RAC) say resources have been sent to area hospitals recently as we’ve seen a rise in hospitalizations.

“At this point and time we have placed registered nurses and respiratory therapists at some of our facilities and we hope to increase those numbers over the next several weeks,” said Wanda Helgesen the Executive Director for Border RAC.

And that increase includes hospital equipment.

“Now based on the increased number of hospitalized patients we are bringing in additional hospital beds, iv pumps, ventilators, and other equipment that might be needed in the hospitals,” said Helgesen.

Helgesen says while more staff and equipment may be needed by hospitals, that there have been no requests for medical tents like we saw when our hospitalizations reached their peak.

“At this point and time, we have not had any hospital ask us for tents to expand their capacity. All of the hospitals look to where they have space that they can expand to and they would all choose to do that before they would ask for any tents,” said Helgesen.

Las Palamas Del Sol Healthcare sending KTSM 9 News the following statement regarding the increase in COVID-19 Hospitalizations.

“Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare hospitals have seen an increase in COVID-19 patients in the past few weeks, similar to what other hospitals are seeing across the El Paso region. This increase causes our purpose-built intensive care units to reach capacity at certain times. On a regular basis, there is a continual flow of patients admitted to and discharged from the ICU. When nearing capacity, we have the ability to convert beds in other areas to accommodate ICU-level care. Our hospital leaders continue to monitor the situation closely, assessing and adjusting resources and support accordingly, as well as addressing staffing challenges that hospitals across the nation are facing. Part of that support includes more than 50 FEMA nurses and respiratory therapists who have traveled to El Paso to assist our teams and help meet the needs of our community.We are extremely appreciative of our teams and their continued dedication to helping our community navigate the ongoing pandemic. As always, we remain committed to providing top-quality care to all of our patients.”

Statement from Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare

University Medical Center sending KTSM 9 News the following statement.

Since the height of the pandemic last year, UMC has implemented a robust and thoughtful contingency plan for surges and drops in patient populations, specifically related to COVID-19 inpatients. It is worth noting that Level 1 trauma hospitals such as ours, even before the pandemic, would see surges in demand for critical care beds/rooms due to a wide variety of traumas presented at our Emergency Department. This would result in minimal available critical care beds and rooms. Our hospital remains very busy yet not at the same levels of COVID-19 care experienced during the winter of 2020/2021. As of today, the majority of our rooms are being used for hundreds of non-COVID-19 cases. We continue to see patients come to us after having delayed care during pandemic, and this has resulted in more acute conditions of illness, such as cardiac care, neuro care, cancer screenings, and more. While staffing for critical care has historically been challenging for hospitals here and nationwide, we are managing our teams effectively and able to staff appropriately in step with the current patient care needs. As we have done in the past, part of our contingency planning, if needed, allows us to convert some of our rooms to ICU-level rooms, giving us maximum flexibility. At this time,  there is not a need of reinstalling tents similar to last year. However,  we are grateful for the very proactive approach by the Texas Department of State Health Services, sending additional staff and resources to El Paso’s hospitals following a surge in COVID-19 cases. Critical care equipment, such as ventilators, IV pumps, monitors, and beds will certainly be put to good use, however, we have not received any at this time but are aware they are available if they are needed.  

Statement from University Medical Center of El Paso

KTSM also reached out to other El Paso hospitals about their individual issues during the upswing of COVID-19 cases, but have not yet received responses.

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