Cameron County hospitals struggle to make room for COVID-19 patients after reaching capacity

Cameron County reports more than 7,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19

SAN ANTONIO – Hospitals across the Rio Grande Valley have been at capacity and are making major adjustments to treat COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Christopher Romero with Valley Baptist Medical Center said they have to get creative to make space for patients.

“Converting areas that normally would not be used for the care of isolation patients into isolation wards,” Romero said.

Romero said EMS units are waiting with COVID-19 patients for a long time because there’s no room in the hospital.

“EMS has been unfortunately having to to wait for a prolonged period of time with patients until they’re able to move into the emergency department,” Romero said.

Read also: New Braunfels hospital making adjustments amid rising ICU intake, staff strain

Even when COVID-19 patients are moved into the ER, they have to wait until a bed is available.

On Thursday, Cameron County reported 7,162 people tested positive for COVID-19.

“If you look at the demographics of the Rio Grande Valley, one of the highest percentage groups are those that are uninsured, which means that a lot of the people that live down here don’t get the routine care and preventative health care that they need on a regular basis,” Romero said.

Romero said the region’s high rate of obesity also plays a big factor.

“The Rio Grande Valley, we have a lot of obesity. And with that, a lot of diabetes. And these are risk factors for having more severe disease and worse outcomes with COVID-19,” Romero said.

He said multi-generational homes make it easy for COVID-19 to spread.

Romero said they are seeing many patients in their 30s and 40s.

He said people who didn’t have health issues are winding up in the hospital with severe respiratory infections from COVID-19.

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