State COVID nurses arrive to local hospitals

According to Doctor Victor Trevino, the extra help will assist in opening up more beds at both hospitals and even lower the hospitalization rate.
Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 8:57 PM CST
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Help is on the way and it couldn’t have come quick enough- that’s from Laredo’s health authority as he reports state nurses have arrived to help with COVID patients.

Video sent to us by a viewer shows the charter buses carrying the state’s STAR nurses that had just arrived and parked in front of the LMC emergency room.

According to Doctor Victor Trevino, the extra help will assist in opening up more beds at both hospitals and even lower the hospitalization rate.

It won’t happen overnight though, as Trevino says they have to undergo training which can take anywhere between three to five days.

Despite the additional help, local leaders warn the community to not let their guard down.

The current hospital situation is like a repeat of the summer.

“The hospital environment is being stressed beyond what they are staffed to handle,” said Doctor Trevino.

Once again, city officials find themselves having to ask for more state help through the State of Texas Assistance Request, also known as STAR.

In the first surge, Laredo had over 300 state nurses in town.

When COVID cases slowed down, only around 117 remained at LMC and just around eight at Doctors Hospital.

During Monday’s media briefing, fire chief and emergency management coordinator Guillermo Heard reported that an additional 28 medical personnel arrived Sunday night.

Of those 28, 24 are registered nurses.

The medical staff’s arrival is set to help, but ICU capacity is still hitting a peak.

“Currently right now, there are five levels between the hospitals,” said Chief Heard. “Five being the lowest. Laredo Specialty and Doctors are at a level four. That means within their own facility they are making extra room for patients, COVID and non-COVID patients. LMC is level two, that means they are using non-traditional rooms to treat patients like ORS. Given with Doctors would be able to expand. LMC is already at high capacity they can only expand a little more.”

Heard says other medical personnel requests are pending since about 70 requests were submitted by our health officials.

The wait on these requests is what concerns Mayor Pete Saenz.

A few weeks ago, when cases weren’t as high, Doctors Hospital released their state nurses not knowing they would need them just a few weeks later.

That release was signed off by the county judge, the city’s mayor, and the county and city emergency coordinators.

They did so only after Saenz says they were told that re-requesting medical staff would not take long, but now as COVID cases increase across the state, he fears staff requests could take longer.

“Ideally what we need is for these resources to arrive timely, within 72 hours,” said Saenz. “So we can expand and people can be treated locally. This is something I feared and cautioned. I said, ‘no gaps.’”

Officials also say initiated out of town transfers were not needed due to Sunday’s arrival of state nurses.

At this rate, Saenz worries the newly arrived medical staff just won’t be enough.

The Laredo health authority reports that Laredo Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which is the all-COVID nursing home, is currently at capacity due to lack of staffing.

Some COVID positive residents were transferred out of town to sister-facilities.

However, Trevino expects 10 to 15 rooms to open and be staffed now that state medical personnel have arrived.

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