San Antonio veteran hospital bracing for surge in Covid-19 cases

'We just encourage everyone to not use this long weekend to go to large social events'

San Antonio – The South Texas Veterans Health Care System is gearing up for a surge in the number of Covid-19 related hospitalizations in the coming weeks.

Chief Executive Officer Christopher Sandles is pleading with veterans to adhere to the social distancing guidelines and wear a mask during the 4th of July weekend to help hospitals.

“We just encourage everyone to not use this long weekend to go to large social events. Protect yourself. Protect those around you,” Sandles said.

The hospital currently has 57 hospitalized patients with Covid-19 and is monitoring another 360 plus positive cases. Sandles expects many of those will also likely end up in the hospital soon.

“We had a number of those veterans, as many as five to 10 sometimes a day. Yesterday a great example who were previously seen in the E.R. were discharged and sent home for self-monitoring. And those symptoms continue to worsen. They’ve had to come back and be admitted,” he explained.

The 5th and 6th floor of the hospital were renovated to treat Covid-19 patients, and the 7th floor is under renovation. He expects to have 97 hospitals beds for Covid-19 patients.

RELATED: San Antonio hospitals inching closer to meeting capacity as COVID-19 cases surge, officials say

Eight patients are on ventilators, more than 40 other ventilators are on standby and another 50 will arrive by next week. Staff is also being dispatched from other VA hospitals to San Antonio.

“Confirmed that are coming into detail, we’re somewhere around 18,” he said. “But we’ve asked for double or triple that number as we continue to look at some of the surge predictions that are taking us through early August.”

Sandles said San Antonio is number one in the nation’s VA system in number of hospitalizations. Ten people have died at the hospital due to complications from Covid-19 as of yet.

He said through contact tracing they’ve been able to determine that a lot of the young veterans who are hospitalized got the virus through social gathering events.

He said the hospital has reverted back to virtual visits for most patients. They urge enrolled veterans who need to see a doctor to use the www.myhealth.va.gov website or call 877-537-7348. You can also call the Community Care Contact Center at 877-881-7618.

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