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Brazos Valley hospitals stress vaccination as high intake of COVID-19 patients continues

Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 5:43 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 6, 2021 at 5:55 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Brazos Valley hospitals are stressing the need for residents to get vaccinated as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise.

Brazos County Health Authority Dr. Seth Sullivan says they are constantly working on plans on how to handle increased capacity.

“We are busier,” said Sullivan. “We look at things on a week to week basis or a day-to-day basis and so we see a trend of increasing hospitalizations over the past week or two.”

With this increase comes conversations about things like surge capacity in order to accommodate not just COVID-19 patients, but all patients in need of hospital care.

“Our hospitals are here for a reason,” said Sullivan. “They are here to serve our community, that’s why we do what we do, and of course our community is hurting with COVID-19 and the other things. So, we serve all of our patients and there is only so many beds and so many resources and so many hands on deck, so to speak, and so that’s where it becomes a big challenge.”

Friday, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported that Trauma Region N, which encompasses the Brazos Valley, has three ICU beds available. DSHS reports that 85 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 out of 400 hospitalizations.

In a statement to KBTX, Baylor Scott & White Health says, “However, if the current surge continues and our intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy rate continues to increase, our medical center may not be able to meet the demand for non-COVID healthcare needs.”

The full statement from Baylor Scott & White Health is below:

While the vast majority of patients in our hospitals are receiving care unrelated to COVID-19, we continue to see an increase in the number of patients needing hospitalization for COVID-19. The Delta variant is the most contagious and dangerous strain we have seen to date, leading to exponentially increasing rates of severe illness and hospitalization. The overwhelming majority of the patients we are treating for COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

The rising number of cases is discouraging.

At this time, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – College Station has sufficient staffing and capacity to care for both patients with COVID-19 as well as patients with other medical conditions. However, if the current surge continues and our intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy rate continues to increase, our medical center may not be able to meet the demand for non-COVID healthcare needs. We can avoid this if we change course now. We ask our community to help us and each other by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, and getting vaccinated to prevent serious illness and hospitalization.

COVID-19 vaccine appointments are available through our digital portal, MyBSWHealth, or by phone at 1-844-BSW-VACC (1-844-279-8222). Any Texan can create a MyBSWHealth account by downloading the MyBSWHealth app, simply text BETTER to 88408 or visit MyBSWHealth.com. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, and they prevent serious illness and can keep you and your loved ones out of the hospital.

The safety of our patients and caregivers remains our highest priority. As always, we thank our care teams for their dedication as we face this challenge together.”

St. Joseph Health sent a statement to KBTX regarding capacity:

The recent surge in COVID-19 cases has put a strain on our healthcare resources in the Brazos Valley and beyond. St. Joseph Health continues to work daily to find creative and effective ways to ensure that we meet the healthcare needs of our community. Other communities are doing the same, and often, one way health systems work to meet those needs is by transferring patients out to other facilities. This is a common practice and one that is done even outside of the pandemic.

At this time, St. Joseph Health is receiving a high number of transfer requests; however, we are not able to accommodate every transfer request that comes in. Our focus has been and continues to be accommodating patients who present to our emergency departments and admitting those who need to be admitted. Additionally, we are working with freestanding emergency rooms within our community to accommodate transfer needs as appropriate, and when we are able, we are accepting transfers. St. Joseph Health has not turned away any patient seeing medical treatment at one of our facilities.

We continue to urge the public to take all precautions to stay healthy so that you do not need hospitalization. The vast majority of individuals needing hospital-level care related to COVID-19 are not vaccinated or are only partially vaccinated. We strongly urge any community members who have not already been vaccinated to do so immediately. To find a list of locations offering the vaccine, visit www.vaccine.gov. In addition, we encourage the continued use of other safety precautions such as wearing a mask when in public, social distancing when possible, staying at home if you are sick, and diligently practicing hand hygiene often.”

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