WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — As the number of hospitalizations rises in Wichita County, United Regional officials said their pandemic plan was and still is solid.
At last check, there were 26 hospitalizations but United Regional President and CEO Phyllis Cowling said there are 70 beds designated to COVID-19 patients.
That’s why Cowling said the number of beds taken now doesn’t worry them just yet.
Cowling said the “normal” bed capacity is roughly 230 beds however that can be expanded to 280 beds.
“If United Regional were to become overwhelmed and I don’t see that on the horizon, we would be able to then utilize other beds in the region from some of the smaller community hospitals.”
Cowling said if that becomes excessive they will then look at maybe setting up beds in Kay Yeager.
However, Cowling said staffing is the limiting factor.
“We’ve got the staffing capacity now but if I have an additional significant [amount] of staff who have to be quarantined for example because they have a family member whose COVID positive that starts to diminish that bed availability,” Cowling said.
Cowling said they have added about 10 temporary staff members to allow for flexibility but also have postponed many surgeries that are not urgent.
In regards to ventilators, Cowling said they are in good shape.
They have roughly 50 ventilators or ventilator-like machines that can be used.
See full statement from United Regional officials below:
United Regional has been and continues to remain in a state of readiness for the current rise in COVID-19 patients. “We had the benefit of a dress rehearsal in March and April,” said Phyllis Cowling, President and CEO, “and now it’s showtime.” Our pandemic plan was solid then, and it’s solid now.
The hospital and clinics are currently seeing a high number of patients (both COVID and non-COVID related). We still have bed capacity, but it has tightened up considerably over the past several days. Likewise, staffing has also tightened up due to both patient numbers and acuity. As such, we have further scaled back elective surgeries/procedures; ambulatory/outpatient cases are ongoing, but we are currently postponing where possible complex procedures and/or those that will likely result in overnight stays. Fortunately, we are in even better shape with our personal protective equipment (PPE) than we were at the outset of the pandemic.
United Regional strongly encourages individuals who are experiencing COVID related symptoms or other minor conditions to utilize a telemedicine option when possible. If testing is needed, curbside sample collections at a United Regional Physician Group (URPG) facility can be ordered by a provider. United Regional also has an interactive Symptom Checker (https://www.unitedregional.org/mychart-symptom-checker-covid-19/) available through MyChart for people who are unsure of where to seek appropriate care.
As always, patients should seek treatment at the nearest Emergency Department for urgent and emergent conditions such as broken bones, chest pain and difficulty breathing. United Regional remains a safe place to seek care and patients should not delay medical treatment when necessary.
We urge the community to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing, wearing a face covering, and washing their hands often with soap and water. “Wearing is caring,” said Cowling. “The regular use of face coverings along with other safety precautions will help keep Texas open and everyone healthy.”