The Travis County Medical Society, an organization that represents over 4,000 local doctors, is seeking qualified physicians to help treat a surge of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. On Jan. 7, the TCMS sent out a call for help in partnership with Ascension Seton and Sound Physicians aimed at providers not currently treating patients.

"Austin is experiencing a surge of COVID patients that has stressed our inpatient medical care community. We are putting out a call for help to any qualified members who would be available and willing to work temporarily as inpatient physicians," TCMS President Dr. Nancy Foster wrote in a letter to the society's members. "We are seeking internal medicine, family physicians and qualified sub-specialists who feel comfortable with hospital care."

In the past week, Austin Public Health representatives have issued warnings about the stress rising COVID-19 hospitalizations is putting on health care facilities. Dr. Mark Escott, the Austin-Travis County interim health authority, has said he expects Austin-area intensive care units to be overwhelmed by Jan. 15. If and when hospitals exceed capacity, APH plans to activate the Austin Convention Center as a field hospital for "lower-acuity" patients.

The TCMS letter was sent out the day after APH reported a record 84.7 average daily hospital admissions related to COVID-19 at Austin-area hospitals. As of Jan. 6, Travis County also had a seven-day moving average of 534 new cases per day, and 162 coronavirus patients were in Austin-area ICUs.

Foster's letter said the TCMS is seeking to create a care team by Jan. 11 who will receive emergency onboarding and credentialing from Sound Physicians and Ascension Seton. According to the letter, volunteers will be paid.