Rural Texas Nurses Fight COVID-19 Surge

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Healthcare workers in rural parts of Texas, where medical resources aren't as widely available, are working in overdrive to combat the pandemic.

The COVID-19 surge affecting rural parts of Texas as well, where smaller hospitals are at or near capacity.

For three years, the Intune Mobile Clinic, a collaboration between The University of Texas at Tyler and Special Health Resources, has been traveling to rural areas, mainly in East Texas.

However, nurse practitioner Barbara Chapman says the mission has become more challenging during COVID.

The clinic is now a walk-up COVID-19 testing site for many who wouldn't otherwise have access.

"We are doing COVID testing here as patients drive through the parking lot and then the tests are passed through this window here," Chapman described in a video she recorded for NBC 5.

"The COVID rates are surging out here. They're surging," said Chapman.

They perform dozens of tests a day, but Chapman said, at its Lubbock stop, they recently performed a hundred tests in a day and half were positive.

They treat those who need immediate help and refer those who need specialized care.

Onboard the trailer is an exam room, as well as a room where a licensed professional counselor meets with patients.

That room, Chapman said, is typically full during operating hours.

"We are seeing a sharp increase in the mental healthcare need for people who are just getting weary. The patients are weary and the providers are weary," said Chapman.

The staff works in shifts to meet the demand, which, they say, has only picked up as we move deeper into the pandemic.

"We are getting tired. We are getting tired and we are doing our best to try to keep up with this. We are running as fast as we can to help everybody," said Chapman.

They're double masking and doing everything they can to keep themselves healthy.

It's not just hospital capacity experts are worried about. It's whether there will be enough healthcare staff to meet the need.

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