Hospitals in crisis: surge pushing our hospitals to their limits, forcing Texas physicians to make “unfathomable decisions”

The Covid-19 virus claimed 7 more lives in our community last week. We have lost 10 community members in the past 21 days. The surge of patients filling up hospitals makes it difficult to help patients with any medical emergency. Patients who would, in normal times, easily find and receive top-notch care, instead have EMS crews struggling to find a place to transfer them, and have hospitals struggling to find enough doctors, nurses, and surgeons, to provide the help patients need. We received a phone call last week, discussing how serious the situation is at local hospitals.
“We at Medina Healthcare System (in Hondo) have had multiple facilities call in desperation to find a bed for their patients. This is a real concern. The delta variant is not only more contagious, but is affecting younger patients than the previous version of the virus. This highly transmittable variant is spreading rampantly,” said Janice Simons, CEO of Medina Healthcare System.
The following is a PRESS RELEASE by Medina Regional Hospital officials:

Hondo, Texas (August 13, 2021) — The number of COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals is accelerating aster than at any other point in the pandemic as the contagious delta variant spreads.
“I am frightened by what is coming, Texas hospitals could soon be overwhelmed,” hospital officials say. Public health professionals have barely caught their breath since the last spike and it’s only getting worse by the hour. Patient care is being delayed or put on hold due to the lack of bed availability. The increase in COVID-19 cases is directly affecting the ability to care for patients with general illnesses that are seeking care.
Texas hospitals are on the edge of a catastrophe. Dozens of hospitals are out of ICU beds; this is the reality.
Bringing this closer to home, August 16th 2021, there was a total census within the Methodist Hospital System of 1,746 and of that 555 were COVID positive. The unvaccinated percent of hospitalized COVID patients is approximately 90%.
“It’s not just the city of San Antonio and it’s not just Medina County, this is all of Texas,” says Janice Simons, CEO of Medina Healthcare System.
State officials have been forced to hand down an algorithm to the large hospitals to assist in the triage of patients. The purpose is to support clinicians, health systems, and the community by providing a clinically and ethically sound triage protocol for allocating healthcare resources during a crisis when resources are critically scarce. When the physicians discuss this triage plan, the emotional decisions that are made are unfathomable. Especially when discussing COVID patients and the treatment. The high numbers that are returning to the hospital and the severity of the illness being caused by the new delta variant is staggering.
“This wave is way worse than the first wave on the entire medical team. Our team is tired and emotionally drained. The resources available through the first wave are not as prevalent during this wave and staffing for nursing is going to the highest bidder,” stated CNO of Medina Healthcare System, Billie Bell.

Patients are now sometimes waiting for days in ERs, according to local hospital officials. According to Medina Healthcare System, this COVID-19 wave is worse than the first wave on the entire medical team. All 21 beds in Hondo are full this week. One-third (seven) of them are COVID patients.

Locally, Medina Healthcare System is performing approximately 4 to 5 monoclonal antibody treatments to COVID patients per day on an outpatient basis. On average, there are 2 to 3 COVID patients that are admitted to Medina Regional Hospital that are being treated for more acute symptoms. The more critical patients are transferred to San Antonio.
Is there light at the end of the tunnel that we have been in since March 2019? There is, and it lies in the COVID-19 vaccine.
Patricia Mechler, Medina County Health Unit, stated during a recent interview with Stephanie Blanks, GoMedina, “For Medina County, 48% of residents 12 years and older have been vaccinated. This leaves over 20,000 unvaccinated.” Mechler continued, “Yes, COVID is a new illness but the vaccine is showing to be safe and effective and it works. There are risks and rare complications but the risks are minimal compared to the positive attributes associated with being vaccinated. There is much debate on the vaccine; the best advice is to seek counsel on being vaccinated from your personal physician. Your provider knows you, personally, and will give you tailored advice.”
Janice Simons, CEO of Medina Healthcare System added, “The Medina Healthcare physicians have been in continuous collaboration with partners at Methodist Healthcare System and are happy to discuss your concerns personally.”

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A local physician for Medina Healthcare System stated at one of the weekly meetings, “We will treat COVID with infusions, prescriptions, and at home vitamins but the delta variant is much different than any other strand. The one way to help in recovery and the one proven method of controlling the spread of all the variants is getting the vaccine before it is too late. The vaccine works, we have seen it. Yes, those who are vaccinated can get COVID, however, most vaccinated COVID cases are mild.” Even if you have been previously infected with COVID-19 the CDC recommends you get the vaccine.
Janice Simons, CEO, closed the discussion with this, “COVID is an emotional subject for most, but unfortunately, it is the reality right now. The number of people who die from diseases such as polio and smallpox has dropped dramatically over the past century, thanks to the development of immunizations. Today, vaccines protect families and communities from a large number of potentially dangerous diseases. Medina Healthcare System is reminding residents to talk with their family care providers about the importance of immunizations, and the COVID-19 vaccine.”