EL PASO, Texas (KTSM)– Local doctors are discussing how the influx of covid-related hospitalizations can impact how non-covid patients in need of medical attention are taken care of.
The City of El Paso announced 908 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday, 223 patients were reported in the ICU, up 17% from Tuesday’s tally. 111 patients were on ventilators.
“The system is not designed so that all these people can get sick at the same time,” Dr. Emilio Gonzalez-Ayala, a Pulmonary and Critical Care specialist said.
The doctor said with area hospitals pushing capacity, even friends and family ask him which hospital to go to if they’re in need of medical attention.
“It’s like, there’s no place I can tell you to go to cause there’s no beds,” Gonzalez-Ayala said.
He said patients who are stable are transferred to other cities via air ambulance to make some space locally.
“In addition, we’re having to transfer patients, the more stable ones in our ICU to ICUs out of town so we can open more beds in the ICU for the patients that are unstable and not candidates for transfer via air ambulance,” Gonzalez-Ayala said.
The doctor said he wished the public would take the virus seriously.
“When we start going out without a good reason to the street were not only taking risk ourselves, we’re taking it for the whole community,” Gonzalez-Ayala said.
He said patients can still go to emergency rooms but you may encounter a situation where you may not get to a hospital bed, meaning outside of the ER and admitted into the hospital, days at a time.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jose Gonzalez, an ER physician at Las Palmas Medical Center, said he worries the influx of virus hospitalizations will deter other patients from getting medical attention if they need it, because they fear they will contract the virus at the hospital.
“The regular care of our patients is suffering,” Gonzalez said. “And the problem is many of them do not seek the medical attention they need when they need it.”
The ER physician said patients involved in a traumatic accident or other non-covid medical emergencies can also visit the stand-alone clinics located throughout the community for treatment and shorter wait times.
“They will be screened, they will be taken care of, they will not be turned away by any means,” Dr. Gonzalez said.
Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare has six emergency rooms across the Borderland.
The local doctors encourage the public to stay home if possible to minimize risk and allow time for local hospitals to make some space.