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'Extraordinary pressure': DSHS deploying extra help to Texas hospitals

Hospital hallway
Posted at 2:47 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 16:47:49-05

WACO, Texas — The Texas Department of State Health Services is sending extra help to hospitals across the state as hospitals fill up to levels not seen since the delta surge last fall.

On Wednesday, the state COVID-19 dashboard showed more than 2,000 Texans had been admitted to a hospital with the virus in 24 hours. More than 11,000 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized in total.

"Our emergency department is probably the busiest that it has been in recent history," Tresa McNeal, hospitalist physician at Baylor Scott & White told 25 News.

Texas DSHS said they have been helping relieve some pressure on hospitals since early in the pandemic. In this current wave, more than 2,400 health care workers, many from out-of-state agencies, have been deployed to work at hospitals across the state. DSHS has a goal of 4,000 extra workers.

The extra staff is funded by federal dollars. At its peak in early October, about 7,700 extra staff members had been contracted to help around the state.

Although the omicron variant is less severe than previous variants, the sheer contagiousness of the variants explains the high number of cases and hospitalizations.

"Even if it's a smaller percentage of people ending up in the hospital, with the number of infections so high, that's still going to lead to very, very high hospitalizations," said DSHS spokesperson Chris Van Deusen.

Ascension Providence and Baylor Scott & White Health released a joint statement on Wednesday about the surge and the assistance provided by DSHS. The hospitals said, in part:

"Ascension Providence and Baylor Scott & White Health welcome additional medical personnel available through the state and will continue to work with the state to meet the current staffing challenges."

The hospitals are also asking people to remember that emergency rooms should not be used strictly for testing purposes.

Testing centers around the state can be found by calling 2-1-1 or visiting the 211 Texas website.