San Antonio hospitals better prepared for next COVID-19 wave

Protocols, procedures set up in March helps hospitals devise strategies

SAN ANTONIO – Hospital officials across Bexar County said they’re ready to face a second wave of the coronavirus should there be a need for hospital space and supplies to treat patients.

Phil Koovakada, CEO of St. Luke’s Baptist Hospital, said his staff have had months to prepare a plan and put it in practice.

“Hospitals are safe right now. We have capacity. We’ve got PPE. We’ve got protocols and pathways that we’ve built to make sure that we fundamentally care for our patients, our staff, our providers and really our entire community,” Koovakada said.

New Bexar County executive order mandates face coverings at all businesses when social distancing is not possible

Christina Bird, University Health System Emergency Room Medical Director, said hospitals began to come up with protocols and procedures in March. Tents set up for overflow outside hospitals have been taken down, but they can be installed in just hours.

“We were lucky in that we did not get hit with a very high number of patients very early on,” Bird said. “So, we we’ve been fortunate that now the stockpiles of PPE across the country have been increased, that we’ve been able to to secure enough for us, that we have we have plenty right now.”

Bird said medical facilities like University Hospital have seen an increase in the number of normal ER visits. Most of those patients were people who were sick during the first wave of COVID-19 but were afraid to go to the hospital for fear of contracting the virus.

“We feel good about keeping our patients safe,” she said. “We feel good about keeping patients safe that need to come to the ER for other reasons than coronavirus and they shouldn’t be fearful of coming here just because the numbers are increasing.”

Bexar County COVID-19 cases surpasses 5,000

According to Wednesday’s COVID-19 statistics from Metro Health, 241 people were being treated in a hospital for the virus. Of those hospitalized, 91 are in ICU and 43 are on ventilators. Hospital capacity is stable with 25% of hospital beds available and 76% of ventilators available.

Officials said while there is an adequate supply of hospital beds, the goal is to ensure that the number of hospitalizations stay down to ensure the virus can be contained.

Hospital directors said the best way the community can help keep those numbers down is by wearing a mask in public, washing their hands frequently and keeping their social distance.

“I can’t stress enough how important this is,” Koovakada said while holding on to his facemask. “I mean, whether you’re in the hospital or when you’re outside, wearing this does help.”

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