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Seminole hospital near capacity in “unprecedented times”

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 11:18 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2021 at 11:24 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise across West Texas, our rural neighbors are facing the same challenges. On Facebook, Seminole EMS Director Carly French left a heartfelt plea, asking everyone to pray for her friends at Seminole Memorial Hospital. She calls the strain on the health care system unprecedented.

“And never have we not been able to transport to our local facility, ever,” French said.

Capacity at Seminole Memorial Hospital is at 90 to 95 percent, with 95 percent of patients battling COVID-19. For EMS, that means they have to track down open beds at regional hospitals, something that’s getting much harder to do lately.

“Our hospital, Denver City’s hospital, and now Andrews’ hospital are all on diversion. So they are not accepting patients from EMS,” French said.

French says they’re getting several Covid-related ambulance calls a day, on top of the everyday emergencies. Over at the hospital, Chief Executive Officer Larry Gray says there’s been a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, their severity and Covid-related emergency room visits.

He says West Texas hospitals are working together to share resources and supplies and his staff is getting creative.

“Maegen and her team turned our O. R. recovery room into a mini ICU and we have up to four vents up there. We have two patients up there at the moment,” Gray said.

Chief Clinical Operating Officer Maegen Garner says the hospital is seeing much younger patients this time around. Most people they’ve had to put on a ventilator are younger than 55. Staff is putting in overtime to meet the need, but at a heavy cost.

“There’s a huge emotional and mental and physical toll. I mean, we’re seeing patients that we wouldn’t typically keep. Typically these patients are transferred to larger hospitals. These nurses are having to step up, learn things quickly, get thrown in, baptized by fire. And unfortunately there is the other part where these patients do die, whether we like it or not, as hard as we fight. And that takes an emotional toll,” Garner said.

“We get into this to take care of people and make them feel better. And when you can’t, and you can just sit there and hold their hand, I mean that’s all we can do sometimes and it’s very exhausting,” French said.

The hospital isn’t doing elective surgeries and has opened up walk-in slots at the clinic to help ease the load. French says they never want to discourage people from calling 911, but if you’re sick or have a non-life threatening injury, make an appointment with your physician instead of heading to the ER.

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