COVID-19 hospitalizations increasing at Parkland

Parkland Hospital says the number of COVID-19 patients it’s treating continues to rise.

The Dallas hospital is bracing for another major surge that could strain resources and push staff to their limits.

Parkland officials said Wednesday it has four COVID-19 units with 114 patient rooms that can expand to double occupancy.

The hospital currently has 101 patients, with 30 on ventilators -- twice the number of patients who were on ventilators last week.

“Everybody is anxious. We kind of know what’s coming,” Samantha Rowley, Parkland Senior Vice President/Surgical Services Division.

Rowley and her colleagues make it their mission to manage the overwhelming effects the virus can have on hospital staff and resources. One big difference from the spring is people were staying home more, state orders limited treatment and patient volume dropped.

“This time around our building is actually full. So we are full with our normal patients, with our normal ED visits, with our normal volumes and then on top of that we have COVID making it more complex,” Rowley said.

But the time that has passed means officials face the next wave with a better understanding of the disease, how to orchestrate family visits to isolated COVID-19 patients creating some normalcy and what it takes to manage severe cases.

“This is not a 24-hour or 48-hour disease. This is weeks and months of recovery. So we’ve learned a ton about how to move these patients along, what to expect,” Rowley said.

The nurses, doctors and support staff driving the operation are also navigating the pandemic’s effects in their personal lives.

“Staffing resources are tight,” Rowley said.

Rowley says the state helps with some resources. But like hospitals across the country, they’re dealing with higher than expected early retirements, people leaving the profession and family challenges.

“Parkland’s been incredible figuring out child care resources, and how do we get people to really come back to work and support with that, but sometimes even that is not enough,” Rowley said.

The climate has changed too, with COVID-19 fatigue setting in.

But even as the disease mounts a comeback, Rowley says they aren’t backing down.

“There is not this infantry that’s going to show up and save you from everything that you are facing, but there are incredible humans all around us that come in every single day and change that one life,” Rowley said.