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Baylor Scott & White, St. Joseph hospitals tightening policies as COVID-19 admissions spike

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 10:58 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Both Baylor Scott & White Health and St. Joseph Health say they are seeing a spike in ICU and hospital admissions, leading to some changes to current hospital policies.

According to the Department of State Health Services, there were more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases reported in Texas Wednesday. Region N, where the Brazos Valley is located, also is reporting zero ICU beds available.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. William Rayburn with Baylor Scott & White Health says they are seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 in their hospitals.

“We are seeing more admissions in the hospital. Our ICU is very busy. Our emergency room, our urgent care facilities are very busy,” said Dr. Rayburn.

Dr. Rayburn says this increase has led them to change some of the reopening policies they previously had in place.

“We are limiting it to one visitor per patient, except for children and new babies it’s a different situation, and obviously for critically ill patients we make exceptions,” said Dr. Rayburn. “But we are trying to remind the public that the Delta variant is here. This virus is moving through our population and just about everybody is getting exposed and so we are strongly encouraging vaccinations.”

St. Joseph Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kia Parsi says they are also changing some policies over the next few months.

“Effective Monday, this coming Monday, August 2, we will go back to a one visitor per patient policy,” said Dr. Parsi. “Now, there will be some exceptions related to maternity and end of life care, but that is toward the standard limitations that we had this in place for much of the last year-and-a-half with COVID-19.”

Both hospitals say they are still doing elective surgeries, but are looking at each one, every day, on a case-by-case basis to see which ones can be postponed.

Dr. Rayburn says although this is not the first surge, they are concerned looking at how quickly things have been filling up recently. He says the hospital is still a safe place to go if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

“Let me start by saying that Baylor Scott & White requires us to follow the strictest CDC guidelines in regards to masking protection, and there is a very high percentage of our employees that have been vaccinated, and so we are very comfortable that the hospital is a safe place,” said Dr. Rayburn. “However, if we do know a significant number of people in our community are not vaccinated and therefore coming into a facility that is caring for a large number of COVID-19 positive patients, carries with it some risk. So, we are trying to be as thoughtful and understanding, but at the same time trying to protect those that are vulnerable.”

Dr. Parsi and Dr. Rayburn say the community can help relieve the burden put on our hospitals by getting vaccinated.

“We are seeing younger individuals that are ending up in the hospital. The vast majority of those folks, if they had been vaccinated, would not be in a hospital today,” said Dr. Parsi. “So, it is reassuring to know we have a vaccine, multiple vaccines, that are safe and effective. What we do want is for more people to be vaccinated. That is the most effective way to prevent severe infection and to prevent people from being hospitalized.”

“The vaccine for COVID-19 is safe. The biggest contribution we can make to the safety of our community is to get herd immunity, and that means for us to make another big push and really encourage those who are not sure if they should be vaccinated to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Rayburn. “I don’t want this to become a divisive issue, because I do understand. I believe the autonomy of a person’s medical decision making up their own body. However, we really think that if we can get a larger percentage of our population vaccinated we will probably quit seeing the surges.”

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