WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — United Regional Health Care System has had a disaster plan in place for years that covers what to do if bed capacity quickly diminishes, the staff suddenly becomes scarce, or PPE runs out.
No matter the situation, having a plan in place could be the difference between a spiraling disaster and control.
“The plan is working now and it will continue to work regardless of the number of patients that will come into United Regional,” URHCS Director of Trauma, Acute Care Surgery and Emergency Preparedness Jacky Betts, RN said. “The plan looks at the number of beds a hospital has, it looks at the staff that’s able to work and care for the patients in those beds and it looks at the personal protection equipment that we have available as well.”
Betts said all three work together to ensure the hospital can best provide care. As far as bed capacity goes, determining that at any given time isn’t as simple as it may sound.
“In Trauma Service Area C there are 10 other facilities, that’s hospitals like Kell West, Electra Hospital, Clay County, Nocona, etc,” Betts said. “United Regional has an agreement with them that in the event that they need to transfer patients to us or that we need to send patients to them, that process is in place, we’ve actually been doing that for several weeks.”
This constant movement allows for expanded capacity.
“Which opens up more beds in our facility to treat the more emergent conditions and of course the continued influx of COVID patients that we’re seeing,” Betts said.
Betts said sending patients back and forth happens every hour of the day, making an exact number of open beds hard to share.
Another part of the plan, specific floors and units designated for COVID-19 patients and staff.
“Whether it be in the emergency department or its in-patient beds, whether it be medical or critical, we keep those patients separated,” Betts said.
For that very reason, United Regional President of Medical Staff Dr. Duanne Peters wants to remind you it is completely safe to seek care. It could actually be much worse if you don’t.
“That is the reason why we’re having some sicker places now because people have been delaying care over the summer months and now they’re coming in really really sick and then you’re thinking about COVID on top of that,” Peters said. “Our hospitals and our clinics right now are the safest place to be.”
As for what happens in the worst-case scenario, United Regional staff said that’s when they have to look outside our area.
“When or if we got to the point that we no longer have any in-patient beds, or we no longer had the staff to care for those patients and we’ve utilized all the regional resources,” Betts said. “Then what the hospital would do in conjunction with the city and county is we’d reach out to our disaster district, which we’re in Disaster District 3 and they would, in turn, reach out to the state and we’d request additional medical assets and resources from the state.”
United Regional officials said they’re in great shape for now and in order for you to stay in great shape, do not delay care.
The hospital is taking many precautions to protect patients seeking care.
There are screening practices in place and patients are triaged to determine where the safest place is for them in the hospital.