Houston Hospitals Ready For COVID Surge, CEOs Say

The heads of four hospitals in the Texas Medical Center said that, despite fears to the contrary, they have ample bed capacity and PPE to deal with the spike in cases

Located near downtown Houston and with over 100,000 employees, the Texas Medical Center is the largest medical complex in the world.
Located near downtown Houston and with over 100,000 employees, the Texas Medical Center is the largest medical complex in the world.

Houston hospital leaders said they are ready to meet the region's surge of COVID-19 cases, despite fears to the contrary.

The heads of four major hospitals in the Texas Medical Center said they have more than enough beds to meet the current surge, as well as an abundance of personal protective equipment.

"The reality is our capacity to care for those patients significantly exceeds what we're staffing on any given day,” said Dr. Doug Lawson, CEO of CHI Saint Luke's Health. “And so, we work hard. While we're working to make sure that we're staffing appropriately on a day-to-day basis, we're also actively planning for anticipated increases over the coming weeks and months."

"Quite frankly, we're concerned that there is a level of alarm in the community that is unwarranted right now, because we do have the capacity to care for many more patients and have lots of fluidity and ability to manage," said Dr. Marc Boom, CEO of Houston Methodist.

The news comes as the Texas Medical Center is already operating at roughly 97 percent capacity.

Lawson and Boom were joined by the heads of Memorial Hermann and Texas Children’s hospitals. They say that while their capacity rates are currently in the high 90-percent range, the hospitals are used to operating at such a high level and are able to prioritize beds to intensive care as needed.

The CEOs urged residents to stay home and, when out, to wear face masks and practice social distancing.

Counties around the state have seen hospital bed usage on the rise, due in part to an influx of people with COVID-19. Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday again suspended elective surgeries in many of the largest Texas hospitals, including those in Harris County, in order to save space for coronavirus patients. The governor also put on pause the state’s reopening plan.

But Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s office said the county is prepared for a surge. Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesman for Hidalgo, said an overflow space at NRG Park is ready to receive patients at a moment's notice. That space would only be used if hospital surge capacity is exceeded, he said.

Funding for the site will come from FEMA and CARES Act funding, Lemaitre added.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

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Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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