North Texas hospitals struggling with staffing shortages as available ICU beds dwindle

More than 2,300 people are in North Texas hospitals with COVID-19.

Local hospitals say there are beds available for now, but they continue to struggle with staffing shortages.

"I think it's beyond time to raise the alarm. We're in a very serious fourth surge.," said Stephen Love with the DFW Hospital Council. "We're less than 100 staffed ICU beds for adults within trauma service area E." 

The governor announced on Monday that Texas will help bring in additional medical staff from out of state. The state will also open more antibody infusion centers to keep people out of hospitals.

County by county in North Texas, hospital data shows the region grow more dangerously red in just one week as COVID-19 hospitalizations climb. 

"That’s close to eight million people. To have less than 100 ICU beds is a very serious thing," Love said.

Communities in some of the hardest-hit counties are already starting to feel the effects. 

Hunt County has 45 COVID-19 patients, which is a sharp increase in just two weeks.

The doors at Hunt Regional’s ER in Commerce have been closed since Friday. The hospital system is struggling with staffing amid the recent surge.

Hunt Regional officials made the decision to consolidate, moving staff in Commerce to the ER in Greenville, which now has tents in the parking lot to help with triage. 

Hospital officials say they had seven nurses start Monday. If things hold steady and they’re able to bring in more traveling nurses, they hope to reopen the Commerce ER in one to two weeks.

But they aren’t the only ones in need of extra staff.

"People are leaving the profession, and we need temporary staffing," Love said. "Here's the issue: Pretty much every state of the union needs temporary staffing. So the supply and demand is totally out of kilter."

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Officials with the DFW Hospital Council say the more contagious delta variant combined with low vaccination rates appear to be driving up hospitalizations. 

Just 35% of Hunt County’s eligible population is vaccinated.

In Rockwall, a similar situation is happening at Texas Health Presbyterian ER on Lakeshore Drive. It temporarily closed last Friday to move staff to the main campus. 

In Rockwall County, there are 87 COVID-19 patients occupying the county’s bed space. 

As trends continue upwards, the DFW Hospital Council says they would not be surprised to see more regional emergency rooms temporarily shut down. 

"I don't see it turning around in the next two to three weeks," Love said. "I think August is going to be a very difficult month in the early part of September."

The DFW Hospital Council says pediatric hospitals are also seeing a similar surge in COVID-19 cases among children. Almost 94% of pediatric beds in the area are occupied.


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