Preparing for the worst: East Texas hospitals, officials take action ahead of possible COVID-19 surge

UT Tyler, TJC ready facilities for possible use

Hospitals Prepare For Surge

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in East Texas, hospitals and government officials are preparing for a possible surge of patients needing care.

“We have a number of facilities that we are currently under discussion with the city and the county on,” said Dr. Michael Tidwell, UT Tyler President. “We want to make sure that should facilities be needed, we make those facilities available.”

On Thursday afternoon, the presidents of both UT Tyler and Tyler Junior College announced they have facilities ready to be used if needed.

“We’ve handed out floor plans that look at the logistics of what would best serve the healthcare professionals, healthcare responders, or non-COVID patients throughout the college,” said Dr. Juan Mejia, TJC President.

The City of Tyler says facilities like the Glass Recreation Center and Harvey Hall could also be used if needed.

Before the need for other buildings, hospital systems like CHRISTUS have plans in place to expand within their own hospitals.

“We have specific floors in ICUs that we’re moving patients into as we see them,” said Mark Anderson, CHRISTUS Chief Medical Officer. “We have plans for expansion of those floors and being able to take care of COVID-19 patients and still have them together so nursing staff can work in an effective manner with those patients.”

Anderson tells KLTV 7 that rooms typically used for surgical operations are also available if extra space is needed.

“If it gets more severe where we have surge, we have the ability to close our operating rooms, bring the anesthesia and ventilators out of those operating rooms into the hospitals, or use those operating rooms themselves as ICUs,” Anderson said.

Dr. Anderson says different projections show various time periods for a spike in COVID-19 patients.

“Most of them end up in early May,” Anderson said. “I think that’s true for a lot of larger communities in Texas as well. We expect we’ll follow a similar pattern, although it could be a week or two behind.”

Anderson said social distancing is the only real weapon we have against a possible surge.

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