The president and CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council said on Monday that based on recent data, the entire area is trending the wrong way when it comes to COVID-19 hospitalizations.
"We’re seeing a trend upward, we’re seeing more COVID-19 hospital admissions," said Stephen Love, president and CEO of Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council. "Our census in North Texas, we’ve got about 1,200 people hospitalized currently with COVID-19, that is back to the level we were back to at the first part of August, we had really decreased, but now we’re going back and trending the wrong way.”
It's a trend that's also occuring in rural areas.
Last week the CEO of Wise Health System in Wise County wrote a two-page letter to the community that outlined what's happening in the hospital and urged people to wear their masks.
Last week, between the intensive care unit, medical and surgical floors, they exceeded 80% capacity.
"We have seen an increase in hospitalizations of COVID patients and that's really what prompted the letter, right now we're able to manage the situation, but what we want to make sure is that we continue to be able to manage I would like the public to understand the role they play," Wren said.
He said there's a myth that people don't have to wear masks anymore, and he said he wants to make sure he dispels any misinformation.
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"If we all will do our small part, wear masks, social distance, I know that's a lot to ask and I know none of us want to, but it really does have an impact to not only control the spread but more importantly, those people who are going to get the sickest and do require hospital care, it will limit the number of them who have to show up here and have to be admitted in the hospital," Wren said.
Last week, the hospital cared for 16 COVID-19 patients on Thursday and Friday, which is the most the hospital has had since the pandemic started.
On any given day, the hospital will have between four and seven COVID-19 patients.
Wren said even though 16 may not sound like a huge number, it does have a major impact, especially if the number of patients continues to grow.
"What that does is we continue to have more and more rooms and staff who are now having to care for COVID patients, it’s less bed capacity, less staff that are available to take care of patients who show up here who we need to provide,” he said.
The hospital's third, fourth and fifth floors at the main campus in Decatur hold 78 rooms. The ICU, which is on level three, has six rooms dedicated to COVID-19 patients.
On the fifth floor, Wise Health System increased the number of designated rooms for COVID-19 patients from three to 14. While the hospital can expand it up to 29, it would then cut into rooms for non-COVID-19 patients.
With the flu lingering around the corner, it's a worry for many hospital systems.
"That’s really what’s driving some of the concern right now, this is typically when we’re heading into our busiest time of year when people seem to get the sickest during the winter and our capacity is at its fullest during those winter months anyway outside of a pandemic year," Wren said. "So we really want to be mindful of that this year to minimize COVID hospitalizations as much as we can so we do have capacity."
He said ultimately, he understands things may seem "out of sight out of mind" for those who are not in the health care system or directly impacted by COVID-19, but wanted to remind the community the coronavirus is still here.
"We want daily life to go on as normally as it possibly can, but we also need to be mindful that the pandemic is still going on and while most people are going to be fine if they contract this disease, some won't and those who aren't (fine) show up to the hospital and need care," Wren said. "We just want to make sure the public is still aware that that is still happening, that those numbers are still going up a little bit so they can do their part to help keep those hospitalizations down."