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More patients than beds | Overflow tents at Baptist Hospitals to give doctors more room to work

A few months ago, officials said that if the rate stayed above 15 percent for seven days, the region would face new restrictions.

BEAUMONT, Texas — The COVID-19 hospitalization rate for the Southeast Texas region has jumped to more than 15 percent.

Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas has seen such an increase in COVID-19 patients within the last two weeks that at one point, health officials said they had more patients than they had beds.

“We are inundated with COVID patients in the emergency room,” Ali Osman, medical director of Baptist Hospitals emergency, said. “At a certain point in time, we had more patients in the emergency department than we had beds in the hospital."

Baptist Hospitals was once down to zero COVID-19 patients being admitted. Now, with COVID-19 cases surging throughout the region, the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council is lending Baptist Hospitals a mobile care unit to be set up outside the emergency center.

The overflow tents will be for non-COVID-19 patients and will give the hospitals more room to work. The plan is to “triage, treat and street."

“That means there is a backlog of patients who comes to emergency room," Osman said. "So we use this, trying to triage patients for less acuity, so they can be seen in a timely manner and appropriate treatment,” Osman said.

The unit will have nurses, practitioners and physicians to handle minor operations and triage patients, Nigel Thaimuriyil, resident physician at Baptist, said.

The delta variant is stronger, and hospitals are beginning to see more young people admitted, Osman said.

“We have not seen much of the elderly, or our senior citizen patients," Osman said. "But we are seeing 40 to 50-year-olds, because they have COVID pneumonia and need treatment."

Osman highly encourages everyone to get vaccinated, and said that even though new COVID-19 patient numbers are disheartening, Baptist will do whatever they have to do to treat people. 

Baptist plans to begin taking patients into the overflow tents Saturday, July 31, 2021.

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