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Last patient released from Step Down Facility

More than 100 hotel rooms were originally designated for these patients and more than 100 medical personnel were deployed, but Fire Chief Guillermo Heard says only around 20 patients were treated since the site opened July 19.
Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 10:05 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - City officials announced on Monday that a temporary COVID-19 site has officially broken down.

The last patient was released from the Red Roof Inn on Calton Road this past Friday.

By late July, the Red Roof Inn wasn’t just a hotel. The state converted it into an alternative care site to house non-ICU COVID-19 patients.

Two months later, all of them have been released.

“The state gave the order to demobilize," said Ramiro Elizondo, assistant chief at the Laredo Fire Department. “They were waiting for that one patient to be discharged.” officially the site is demobilized.”

More than 100 hotel rooms were originally designated for these patients and more than 100 medical personnel were deployed, but Fire Chief Guillermo Heard says only around 20 patients were treated since the site opened July 19.

Although the numbers were lower than expected, Heard says opening the facility was worth it.

“That’s 20 patients that would have had difficulty taking care of at the hospital because they were max capacity, so that one-on-one care from the nurses and doctors was beneficial," said Heard. "It was worth it.”

The state gave the City of Laredo the go ahead to halt operations, officially closing September 23.

“Our need was high acuity, ICU beds, something Red Roof Inn could not provide, although we tried locally and through state officials to open it up some more but we were not successful," said Mayor Pete Saenz.

Red Roof Inn only accepted low acuity patients, so the number at any given time was low; that plus $2,300 in security costs led to its closing.

“It did serve a purpose although minimal, but in the last two weeks or so we had one or two patients averaging per day, so it wasn’t cost effective. It was more of a convalescent type of set up there that helped some patients, but of course we needed something more during the peak of COVID-19.”

Although things have began to look up, officials continue to warn of a second wave.

“If we prepare and nothing happens, that’s even better, but in case something happens, we have a plan.”

According to the Laredo health authority, the closing of the alternative COVID site comes after hospitalization rates have steadily declined.

Officials still say they are working to bring the 25% hospitalization rate down to 15% or lower so businesses can re-open.

Copyright 2020 KGNS. All rights reserved.

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