Hugh Brown, CEO of St. David’s Georgetown Hospital, said the rapid rise in cases has placed stress on St. David’s HeathCare hospital’s ICU capacity. The hospital continues to take steps to ensure it has the staff, equipment and physical space necessary to care for COVID-19 patients as the Georgetown community faces an imminent surge.
On July 1, Georgetown reported 401 cases. That number rose to 583 on July 8, an increase of 45.39% in eight days, according to Williamson County and Cities Health District data.
In addition, St. David’s is Georgetown’s only major hospital. It has 114 total beds.
“Central Texas, including Georgetown, is in the midst of a surge of COVID-19 cases, greater than we have previously experienced,” Brown said in an email. “While none of us can predict the future, based on what we have seen in other communities that have experienced wide-spread COVID[-19] activity, it is reasonable to assume these numbers will continue to rise.”
To help alleviate some of the stress, Brown said St. David’s Georgetown has postponed all non-emergent/non-urgent inpatient surgeries, in compliance with Gov. Greg Abbott's recent orders. While outpatient cases that do not require an inpatient bed continue at this time, Brown said he is continuing to monitor the increase in cases, and those services may be restricted in the near future so that staff can be redeployed to support inpatient care.
Brown added that the hospital will also continue COVID-19 testing of all patients prior to their procedures.
“If the hospitals in our system reach a capacity where we cannot accommodate demand, while we will always make emergency care available, we will continue to make changes, such as adjusting our staffing needs and further limiting the services we are able to offer patients,” Brown said.
Transferring patients between facilities within the hospital system or across other local health care systems in order to provide care is also an option, he added.
St. David’s Georgetown also currently has a “no visitors” policy, excluding laboring and post-partum patients; patients with disabilities or impairments or who are elderly; patients in the neonatal ICU and pediatric units; patients requiring surgery or other medical procedures; and patients requiring end-of-life care, Brown said.
He said one caregiver 18 years or older may accompany a patient, but the visitor must pass a health screening upon entrance and must wear a mask while in the hospital.
“While we understand the importance of having the support of loved ones during a hospital visit or stay, we must continue to prioritize the health and safety of our patients and caregivers during this unprecedented pandemic,” he said.
To help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, Brown said, everyone who enters the buildings is subject to a temperature check.
The hospital also has separate care locations for COVID-19 positive patients and those under investigation, who are masked and escorted to designated locations when and if necessary.
In addition, non-COVID-19 patients, including those receiving outpatient care or undergoing scheduled procedures, are treated in separate areas and are assigned staff who are not concurrently caring for COVID-19-positive patients, he said.
“St. David’s HealthCare is dedicated to providing patients with exceptional care and encourages everyone to seek care promptly if they believe they or a loved one may be experiencing a medical emergency,” Brown said. “We want our community to stay healthy, and we’re taking measures to be there to provide the care patients need and ensure they receive it in a safe and caring environment.”