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Alternate COVID care site to open on Tuesday

Patients who will be admitted will have been previously hospitalized, but the site allows these patients to have a few extra days of monitoring while also freeing up beds in the ICU’s.
Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 11:11 PM CST
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - If you’ve passed by the area of Bartlett and Bustamante Street, you may have seen some white tents recently set up.

Starting on Tuesday, a new alternate care site will be up and running for mild to moderate COVID-19 patients.

Conveniently located between two major hospitals, Laredo Medical Center and Laredo Specialty Hospital.

“A week ago, this was just an empty parking lot,” said Gerardo Castillo, director of the Texas COVID Response.

The new alternate care site is located on the University of Texas Health Science Center regional campus off Bustamante Street.

Patients who will be admitted will have been previously hospitalized, but the site allows these patients to have a few extra days of monitoring while also freeing up beds in the ICUs.

”If there are any patients that need to be discharged from urgent or emergency care or ICU, and need to be observed for a few days before they go home,” said Dr. Rashid Chotani, chief medical director of IEM Med Services.

The site is equipped with 30 beds, five toilets, three showers, air and heating and plenty of PPE.

“If there are any patients that need to be discharged from emergency or urgent care or ICU, and they need to be observed for a few days before they can go home, they can come over here so that the burden on the healthcare and hospitals decreases,” Dr. Chotani said.

Each room has a bed, oxygen tank and table. The facility also has a general area for patients to have leisure time.

Families can drop off food or clothes, but no one except the healthcare workers is allowed inside.

“We want to make sure that when they are ready to be released, they have some kind of a support system to go to their homes because they might be out of town, out of state or live too far from here,” Dr. Chotani said.

The site is state-funded, and it’s free of charge. Any patient, regardless of health insurance status, is accepted.

Medical staff is required to go through a rigorous decontamination process before and after taking their breaks.

Patients and security guards will start flowing in on Tuesday.

There was another alternate care site in Laredo over the summer at Red Roof Inn on Calton Road and closed last September.

Health officials say this new site is different from the one at Red Roof Inn because the amount of patients was previously “very restricted.”

They also say they have a wider capability to provide a “better healthcare experience for patients.”

The site also has a pharmacist on site, and they can receive physical and respiratory therapy.

The health officials running the site say they will be here as long as they are needed.

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