Covenant Health responds to shrinking spare hospital capacity, rising COVID-19

Local News

LUBBOCK, Texas — The gap between hospitalized COVID-19 patients and hospital capacity is beginning to close. As of July 2, the number of patients in the hospital was nearing 100, and hospital capacity approached 475 beds, according to data from the City of Lubbock.

Additionally, as of June 30, there were 52 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Lubbock. By July 2, that number had risen to 64, according to the city.

CEO of the Covenant Health Lubbock Market Walter Cathey said they have seen a steady increase of folks in the hospital, however, they do have an eight stage plan incase COVID-19 cases continue to surge.

“When you look at how we operate on a daily basis I think we have become accustomed to viruses such as the flu and those types of things and how we deal with it on a daily basis,” Cathey said, “and to have a new one enter into our population the way it has, I think it’s going to bring in a lot of protocol changes that we’re going to continue to adapt moving forward.”

Two of Covenant’s major hospitals are COVID-19 specialty hospitals. Right now, they’re between 75 to 80 percent of their total capacity, with 48 patients fighting the coronavirus.

“I think we’ve been fortunate inside our community and inside of our health system to actually have a very good discharge rate and hopefully we can keep the mortalities down in our community,” Cathey said.

Cathey added most of their patients in the ICU have compromised immune systems, and have respiratory issues.

Within just four days, 11 additional people are now in the ICU. Beginning the week with 20 on Monday, by Thursday the number rose to 31. On Monday, the number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital was 41 (this figure including ICU patients) and by Thursday, there were 64 patients in the hospital–an increase of 23 people.

Dr. Steven Berk, Dean of the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center School of Medicine and Executive Vice President and Provost said although there is an increase of cases within young people, most patients in the ICU are older.

“Those individuals are still mostly elderly. Their mean age is about 65,” Berk said.

Cathey said even as the numbers increase, Covenant Health has the space.

“We actually have an eight stage surge plan that has been developed here in the Covenant health System primarily dealing with two major hospitals–Covenant Medical Center and our Covenant specialty hospital,” Cathey said.

With a little less than 80 beds with ICU capabilities available between the hospitals, Cathey said they can still open up even more.

“Other than that we have another 100 beds inside our just general medical operation that also has a surge plan attached to it as well,” Cathey said.

At UMC, they have 500 beds available, but with their COVID-19 surge plan, it allows them an 11 percent increase in capacity, rounding up to 650 beds.

“We are probably a little over-bedded and this is one of those rare occasions where we are probably blessed that we are over-bedded,” Cathey said.

Cathey said most of their patients in the ICU are folks with a compromised healthcare status and now have respiratory distress.

He also adds most cases are from outside Lubbock, 17 within Lubbock and 31 from within the region.

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