GC hospitals at 90 percent capacity for COVID-19 patients

Staff Writer
Herald Democrat
This graph was included in the packet of information released by Grayson County Office of Emergency Management regarding the hospitals' request for help from the state.

As of Tuesday morning, there were 360 people in hospitals located in Grayson County. Of those, the Grayson County Office of Emergency Management has announced that 22 people have been confirmed to have COVID-19.

Not all of those individuals are from Grayson County and that is why they do not appear in the COVID-19 numbers released by the county each day.

There were an additional four suspected cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday as well. Numbers released by GCOEM on Monday show that 13 Grayson County residents were hospitalized with the virus on Tuesday.

During Tuesday’s Grayson County Commissioner’s Court meeting, County Judge Bill Magers advised the court that the COVID-19 situation in the county had reached the point that local hospitals are experiencing staffing issues.

He said the local hospitals have asked for help from the state.

The information attached to Grayson County’s request for help from the state showed that the area’s hospital ICUs are at 89.28 percent capacity. That number was updated later in the day Tuesday to 93.75 percent capacity.

The request for state help said there were eight beds in negative pressure rooms available to treat COVID-19 patients and and six ICU beds available. An update Tuesday said there were only four available ICU beds available. There are 18 adult ventilators available in the county.

In a telephone interview Monday evening, Texoma Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Ron Seal confirmed the hospital has been seeing a lot of COVID-19 patients, but not all of them have been from Grayson County. He said staffing at TMC has been able to keep up with the demand so far, but noted that there were reserves ready in case they were needed.

OEM’s request for help showed the county originally asked for 24 ICU registered nurses and received approval for 18.The county requested 30 medical surge registered nurses and received approval for 12. The county asked originally for 20 certified nursing assistants and received approval for eight. The county asked for 26 screeners and received approval for 20. All of the reserve help is currently slated to work at Texoma Medical Center.

Seal said TMC has began planning in March for what is happening now, and TMC put aside 15 percent of its beds for COVID-19 patients when the governor asked hospitals to do so.

TMC put keeps all of the COVID-19 patients together in one place in the hospital called a pod. There were 27 beds in that unit. Each of those rooms, he said were negative pressure rooms.

“It would protect the patient as well other people in the hospital and our staff,” he explained.

From the beginning, TMC set that area up so that it could be expanded quickly, if needed. They also set up the rooms specifically for COVID-19 patients, Seal said.

At the very beginning of the pandemic, Seal said they instituted an Incident Command Team that continues to meet everyday and assess how the hospital is doing in its mission of providing the best possible care to those who seek help there. That team has been watching the numbers of COVID-19 positive cases in the county and the numbers of those people who are walking through their doors. They also keeping an eye on staffing and equipment and making sure that people get breaks when they are needed.

At first, TMC was only seeing a few COVID-19 patients come in at a time, he said. Staff was caring for four at a time. Then, it was eight at a time.

As the numbers grew across the state, so did the number of patients at TMC. Recently, they have had as many as 26 at one time.

Seal said there has been a lot of overtime.

“We’ve been very very very blessed,” he said. “Our employees here — they’re an awesome team of individuals here — physicians, the employees, all of the workers. That is what has helped us to get through this. We have been able to have a enough staff here.”

But, the hospital has obtained some relief staff to help make sure that the TMC can stay on top of the COVID-19 traffic it is likely to see in the coming weeks while also being able to continue to meet the need of people seeking other kinds of treatment at the hospital.

In addition to the information about the needs of area hospitals, the request for help presented at the Commissioner’s Court meeting showed that a Denison nursing home recently released information about two patients and two staff members that had COVID-19.

The name of the nursing home was not listed, and the report said the state Emergency Medical Task Force tested all staff and residents at the facility. The patients who were ill with the virus had been isolated, and infection control measures have been increased.

Wilson N. Jones Medical Center, whose beds and capacity were figured into the numbers provided by the county, did not respond on Friday to questions about how it was dealing with the number of patients it was seeing with COVID-19. Calls and emails seeking that information on Monday and Tuesday were not returned.