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State sends health professionals to assist local hospitals

The immediate response group from San Antonio arrived in Laredo at around 2 a.m. on Thursday which included six registered nurses, five licensed vocational nurses, six nurse assistants and one EMT.
Published: Jun. 25, 2020 at 10:25 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Because of the spike in hospitalizations, there is a shortage of staff in those COVID-19 intensive care units.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases continue to go up in the Laredo and Webb County area, but the number of COVID-19 patients needing to be placed in the intensive care unit is also going up.

“At this point it has become a crisis more than a surge, especially within our intensive care units,” said Doctor Victor Trevino.

On Wednesday night, Laredo’s health authority told KGNS that Laredo Medical Center’s COVID-19 ICU was at capacity due to staff shortage and Doctors Hospital of Laredo’s ICU was nearing capacity.

This prompted Doctor Trevino to contact the Commissioner of the Texas Department of State and Health Services requesting the fast track diversion of COVID-19 patients to other Texas hospitals.

Trevino says that request is still pending approval, but in the meantime the state approved the city’s State of Texas Assistance Request, also known as STAR, which means the state sent over health professionals to assist and to give our local hospitals more temporary capacity.

The immediate response group from San Antonio arrived in Laredo at around 2 a.m. on Thursday which included six registered nurses, five licensed vocational nurses, six nurse assistants and one EMT.

“The second group, I will come in to replace them, will be a group of 10 RN’s and eight respiratory technicians, making a total of 18. The second group will stay as long as we need them, that will increase the capacity of the hospitals to a better level.”

During an emergency media briefing around Thursday at noon, city officials said the additional aid sent by the state has provided relief within the ICU and say for now there is no ICU staff shortage, but they also say they will continue to take precautionary measures since the actual number of available beds changes frequently and is dependent on the number of available health care workers at each unit.

At 3 p.m. Thursday, Trevino told our KGNS Digital News Desk that if ICU capacity increases, whether it be due to staff shortage or space, they have steps lined up. The first step includes reaching to the State Star Program like they did Wednesday night, using city resources.

Step two includes setting up off-site overflow facilities, and step three to once again to request the transfer of patients to other Texas hospitals.

Doctor Trevino provided information on several other important matters dealing with COVID-19. If you’d like to hear the complete interview you can find it right on our KGNS Facebook page.

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