LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - As the number of people who require hospital care for COVID-19 infection rises, CHS St. Luke’s Health Memorial Lufkin is taking proactive steps to deal with the growing influx of coronavirus patients.
In addition to opening a third COVID unit at CHI St. Luke Memorial’s Lufkin campus, the hospital will also be getting help from the Department of Defense in the form of ICU registered nurses and MedSurge registered nurses.
“The safety and care of our patients and our employees is our highest priority,” said Tina Alexander Sellers, CHI St. Luke’s Memorial’s marketing director. “As we see increasing COVID-19 cases across East Texas we continue to take appropriate measures to effectively manage this increase in volume.”
According to a press release, CHI St. Luke’s Memorial is amid an expansion plan that will increase the bed capacity at the Lufkin hospital. Ultimately, the expansion will result in CHI St Luke’s opening a third COVD-19 unit at its Lufkin hospital. As cases increase across East Texas, healthcare officials have said that the need for COVID-19 beds is ever-changing.
“To ensure that we are providing care to our most critically ill patients, we have reassigned some of our existing staff to address any additional staffing needs required and we are very much looking forward to receiving military medical support from the Department of Defense at our Lufkin facility next week,” the press release stated.
According to the press release, Lufkin was one of only three locations in Texas that were chosen to receive military medical support.
The press release said in the interim, CHI St. Luke’s Memorial will continue to closely monitor COVID-19 admissions. The hospital system’s staff will also be monitoring the circumstances in East Texas to identify any staffing and capacity needs.
“St. Luke’s Health-Memorial remains steadfast in our commitment to the residents of East Texas. We urge people to do everything they can to slow the spread of COVID-19 by redoubling efforts around safe behaviors,” the press release stated. “We are still providing many services at St. Luke’s Health-Memorial and our Emergency Department remains open. Patients needing care urgently should seek care immediately.”
For the past 34 days, the trauma service area that includes Angelina and Nacogdoches counties have had a hospitalization rate of 15 percent or more of its hospitals’ total capacity.
On Friday, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported that TSA H’s hospitalization rate dropped to 23.42 percent, which was up from yesterday. Yesterday, the hospitalization rate was at 24.24 percent. The DSHS also reported on Friday that TSA H is down to only one available ICU bed.
The last time that TSA H was below the 15-percent threshold was on Dec. 18.
Counties in the Deep East Texas Trauma Service Area include Angelina, Nacogdoches, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, and Tyler.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Sept. 17 that counties could reopen businesses to 75 percent capacity and allow the resumption of elective surgeries. Bars were also allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity. However, counties in Trauma Service Areas with over 15 percent COVID-19 hospitalizations for seven consecutive days would be excluded from that reopening.
For the Deep East Texas TSA to go back to 75 percent capacity, the rate needs to be below 15 percent for seven straight days.