LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock hospitals say they are full and are facing staff shortages as they deal with an influx of COVID-19 patients.
In response, Gov. Abbott has deployed 117 medical staff to the Lubbock and Amarillo area. At least 18 nurses will be sent to Covenant hospitals by Sunday.
“It sounds like a drop in the bucket, but any relief we can get will be a treasure," said Craig Rhyne, Regional Chief for Covenant Health.
Rhyne said he is grateful for the help, because he has never had this many healthcare workers be sick or exposed to the virus at once. As of Friday, nearly 178 health care workers at Covenant are unable to work because of COVID-19 illness or exposure. This forces healthy staff to work overtime and become fatigued, which is why Abbott sent reinforcements.
“It has typically been anywhere from 25 to 50, but we have never seen 178 on furlough at one time until now,” Rhyne said.
The governor has also sent personal protective equipment and ventilators to the Lubbock and Amarillo area. Rhyne said they will most likely deploy ventilators to rural hospitals. For example, he said a hospital in Leveland only has one ventilator.
“Rural areas like Leveland and Plainview have a much more limited supply so that’s where those are going to be deployed," Rhyne said.
Hospital administrators say the Lubbock area is “dangerously close” to seeing a total shutdown based on the percentage of COVID-19 patients in local hospitals.
Governor Greg Abbott said if the percentage of COVID-19 hospital patients exceeds 15% for seven consecutive days, then he will begin closing the area, which means we will revert to a shut down we saw in March.
Based on data from the state, Lubbock’s trauma service area has seen a daily increase in COVID-19 related hospital patients. The graphic below is as of Oct. 15. For the updated version, visit the state’s website.
Compared to the rest of Texas, Lubbock has the second highest percentage of COVID-19 hospitalizations. The El Paso area has the most and the Amarillo area has almost the same rate as Lubbock.
Health officials have a clear message. The behavior of Lubbock residents is affecting health care workers and the community’s most vulnerable.
“It’s one thing to say, I have a right to do what I want to do, but it’s another thing to know that you have a responsibility to do what’s correct," Rhyne said.
Lubbock’s trauma service area includes: