‘There is no help coming’: MMH concerned about staffing amid COVID-19 spike

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MIDLAND, Texas (Nexstar)- “We’ve been notified by the State and FEMA that there is no help coming.”

Midland Memorial Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Kit Bredimus expressed concern about staffing amid a spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations in a news conference Thursday morning. 

“Our biggest challenge is staffing. And this is a challenge across the nation right now,” Bredimus said. 

During previous COVID-19 spikes, the hospital received help from the State in the form of supplies and temporary nurses and respiratory therapists. Amid the current spike, there is no help available.

The hospital says it is trying to hire contract employees, but there are few applicants for those jobs, and those employees are needed all over the country. In addition to a nursing shortage, Bredimus said current employees are experiencing fatigue and fear over the possibility of another long round of coronavirus hospitalizations. 

MMH President Russell Meyers said the hospital is treating 38 patients for COVID-19 as of Thursday morning. That number is up 14 from last week. Coronavirus hospitalizations are up 850% from July 4. The ages of those currently hospitalized with the virus range from 25 to 95. 

“We are very busy. The spike is real,” Meyers said. “We are seeing substantial growth in COVID hospitalizations and positive tests in the community.”

“We are very busy. The spike is real,” Meyers said. “We are seeing substantial growth in COVID hospitalizations and positive tests in the community.”

Meyers said an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations is not just a “COVID issue”. 

“When we fill up the hospital with COVID patients, it’s that much more difficult for us to care for the next heart attack, the next trauma victim, the next stroke that arrives in our ER,” he said. “It’s about the full range of available healthcare resources in this community.”

Meyers again stressed the importance of vaccines saying that all but two of the currently hospitalized patients are unvaccinated. 

“The vaccination is still the critical piece. The most significant opportunity to stop the surge,” Meyers said. “The unvaccinated, obese, hypertensive, diabetic, patient with comorbid conditions is at a very, very high risk at this time. If you get vaccinated, that is the only way to protect the vulnerable among us. It’s the only way to protect children.”

Meyers said there have been 62 “breakthrough” cases among the 38.1% of vaccinated Midlanders. He says of those 62, only two have been hospitalized, and those patients were both in their 90s. Meyers said because of the highly contagious Delta variant, vaccinated people can still be carriers of the virus, they can still get sick; however, the majority of those who do get the virus only experience mild symptoms. 

In addition to once again stressing the importance of vaccines, hospital staff also announced some changes to their visitation policy. 

Beginning August 2, visiting hours will be observed from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Exemptions may be made for overnight visitors on a case-by-case basis, but overnight visitors will need to remain on campus after 8:00 p.m. as there will be no one available to screen visitors after that time.

Patients will only be allowed one visitor at a time and only two per day. All visitors will be required to wear a mask. Patients will also have to mask up when visitors are in the room. 

Over in Odessa, staff at Medical Center Hospital say they are caring for 24 patients with COVID-19, 10 of those patients are on ventilators. Odessa Regional Medical Center is caring for three COVID-19 patients. 

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