Hospitals continue to expand internally

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, our hospitals are facing the challenges of staffing, supplies, and space.

“For those that think that hospitals aren’t doing everything they can to expand, I hate to say that you are misinformed and misguided, but you are,” stated Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael Lamanteer.

In terms of staffing, at Northwest Texas Hospital, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brian Weis stated they have 128 COVID-19 patients, but 129 staff in quarantine. Additionally, they had more than 40 call-ins this morning from people who were feeling ill or concerned.

Another big concern for both Northwest and BSA is where do they expand to next?

As Lubbock hospitals continue to see a surge in cases and capacity, they have had to expand their care to their parking lots, in tents. However, local health authorities are doing all they can to avoid this approach, here in Amarillo.

“The only reason you’re not seeing that is because we know that we’re doing a better job of treating patients in the walls of the hospital, as opposed to out in the parking lot, where we can’t do an adequate ICU level of care, which is what many of these patients need,” explained Dr. Lamanteer.

While they continue to expand internally, Northwest hospital has purchased over 100 new beds, with the purpose of doubling up the Medical Surgical floors.

As for BSA, historically the maximum number of ICU beds at BSA was 48. Currently, BSA’s Intensive Care Unit has 87 beds. Dr. Lamanteer, said they have almost doubled their ICU capacity.

“We nearly doubled our historic ICU capacity by adding 39 beds. We also added 77 new med-surge beds, which are non-ICU beds. So again, that’s over 100 new beds, if you will, that we’ve expanded within the walls of our hospital in an attempt to prevent doing that,” said Dr. Lamanteer.

Dr. Weis also stated, “The hard part and the challenge is critical care. We’re in the same boat, just when we look at things like some of these tent-structures that have been offered to us… They are just inadequate to provide critical care. They’re just not going to solve our problems.”

Dr. Lamanteer also commented that to take this approach for expansion, they would still need an additional increment of RAC nurses, even though as of yesterday they already have 150.

As more COVID-19 cases continue to be confirmed through lab testing and patients develop symptoms that require medical care, health authorities will keep looking for other ways to expand.

“So looking at other options for ICU care becomes an extreme degradation, in terms of the quality of the equipment and supplies and staffing that we can provide, just because we’re spreading things too thin with staffing,” said Dr. Lamanteer.

For the past week and a half, Dr. Lamanteer said BSA has been planning to expand further Med Surg beds with negative pressure. However, the hospital is at the maximal capacity for intensive care services.

As for Northwest, Dr. Weis said that they are now considering expanding to some of their post-surgery recovery areas.


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