EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — One local hospital said it’s doing the best it can to help relieve other area hospitals dealing with capacity issues amid the COVID-19 crisis in El Paso.
The El Paso Long Term Acute Hospital has developed a COVID unit and has been taking in COVID patients who are on the road to recovery.
The hospital treats COVID patients as they’re recovering in a specialized COVID unit, however, the hospital said it’s been overwhelming lately especially for medical workers.
“We offer a unique service that helps relieve the acute care hospitals whatever that may be. If it’s long-term IV antibiotics, but in this sense, we’re taking the respiratory patients out of their ICU’s, out of their medical-surgical floors, sitting on the ER, wherever they can, and we’re trying to put them in and fill the COVID unit… doing the best we can with it, with all the rest of the hospitals in the city,” Skylier Blake, CEO of El Paso LTAC added.
Claudia Rodriguez, a charge nurse at El Paso LTAC, took the risk and chose to work at the hospital’s newly developed COVID unit which began admitting patients in May.
“When I was asked if I was willing to work the COVID unit, I thought that I needed to think about it because it was very risky,” Rodriguez shared. “We are at risk as well to get infected. We’re trying to help as much as we can with the whole problem that we have in El Paso, but we are limited. We’re very limited.”
“We started with six dedicated staff, which without that first team there’s no way this would’ve been possible,” Blake added.
The idea of preparing a COVID unit sprung in February in efforts to help offload other El Paso-area hospitals facing challenges.
“We have 15 total beds on the COVID unit. By the end of tonight, the latest tomorrow morning, we should be at capacity. We have 21 COVID positive referrals out from the community, whether it be either tenet or HCA, or from a skilled nursing facility. So that’s a lot of pending COVID patients that need somewhere to go,” Blake said.
“Really this is the recovery hospital is what I try to explain it to. This is just trying to help the community have a place to go in their recovery care,” Celeste Shaughnessy, Director of Business Development at El Paso LTAC shared.
Rodriguez shared that nurses such as herself are not only taking care of the patients, but sympathizing with them as well, “Most of them are very lonely because they are isolated basically, and it’s very hard for them. We understand the family side as well. So we try to be in connection with them. We try to be with them as much as possible.”
The hospital said it offers 24/7 respiratory therapy for patients, but urges community members to be aware of the situation hospitals are in and help slow the spread of the virus.