Texas Medical Center readying for potential future surge in COVID-19 cases

Texas Medical Center
The Texas Medical Center is preparing for a potential surge in COVID-19 cases. (Dwight C. Andrews/Visit Houston)

The Texas Medical Center is preparing for a potential surge in COVID-19 cases. (Dwight C. Andrews/Visit Houston)

Hospitals affiliated with Texas Medical Center have been gearing up for a potential future surge in COVID-19 cases.

That was a message a representative from the medical center relayed during a press conference March 24, in which Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Slyvester issued a mandatory stay-at-home order for all Harris County residents working nonessential jobs, which went into effect midnight March 25, and will last through April 3 as the Greater Houston area faces a COVID-19 outbreak.

The Texas Medical Center supported the order in order to help slow spread of the virus and “flatten the curve”, the representative, Houston Methodist Hospital CEO Dr. Marc Boom said during the news conference.

Meanwhile, the medical center’s member institutions, with over 9,200 total patient beds and over 106,000 total employees, have been doing their part to be ready for an influx of new virus cases.

“Every one of our hospital systems is working diligently to do all the things that we need to do to be ready in a situation like this,” Boom said during the conference.

First and foremost, hospitals in the medical district have stopped performing elective procedures to start clearing out capacity and are shoring up supplies.

“We’re focusing on all the supplies, the equivalent, the ventilators that will be in place, and we’re focusing on what I term ‘surge in place capacity,’ which is the ability to expand what we’re able to do within our walls, clearing the way for each of us as we continue to surge,” Boom said. “And we’re even doing planning beyond that.”

Memorial Hermann Health System, a member institution at the medical center, has had its own surge plan ready in such a scenario, said Dr. Angela Shippy, chief medical officer for the health system.

“The plan talks about patients, how we take care of them, staffing models, depending on if they are on the regular floor, or whether they are in the ICU,” Shippy said. “So everything related to the acuity of those patients and their staffing needs.”

Still, while the COVID-19 outbreak remains a fluid and developing situation, there are lessons to take away from how the virus has affected other areas such as China, Japan, Italy, Seattle, New York that could be used in hospital preparedness, Shippy said.

“So we will take that combined learning and utilize it for any surge in the Houston area,” she said.

And as the outbreak spreads, a question that still remains is just how the future will unfold.

“Nobody knows what it’s going to look like,” said Houston Methodist Hospital nurse Molly Cook. “The greatest fear truly lies in the anticipation.”
By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.


Coronavirus cases continue to rise in Harris County. (Community Impact Staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 907 cases, 12 deaths confirmed July 9

The 12 deaths—the largest single day total in Harris County since the pandemic began—brings the total COVID-19 death count in the county to 423.

Firefighters, police officers, solid waste collectors and bus drivers in Houston have all been affected by coronavirus exposure. (Courtesy Pexel)
From solid waste collectors to firefighters, Houston’s public workers facing strain from coronavirus exposures

Houston’s core city services are being strained by coronavirus exposures, city leaders report.

The Texas Republican State Convention was set to be held July 16-18 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
Two new lawsuits aim to reverse GOP convention cancellation

The lawsuits come the day after the contract for hosting the event was terminated.

Effective July 9, hospitals in more than 100 counties across the state must now postpone elective surgeries unrelated to COVID-19. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
MAP: Governor expands restrictions on elective surgeries to more than 100 Texas counties

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expanded the restrictions that initially required only hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties to postpone all non-medically necessary surgeries and procedures that are unrelated to COVID-19.

July sales tax revenue in Bellaire is down during COVID-19, while West University Place sales tax figures remain strong. (Courtesy Pexels)
Comptroller’s office: July sales tax revenue up in West University Place, down in Bellaire

July sales tax revenue figures released July 8 by the Office of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts shows that Bellaire’s sales tax revenue has slipped year over year, while West University Place's has seen an uptick.

All main lanes, both north and southbound, on I-610 West Loop at I-69 will be closed from 9 p.m. July 10 through 5 a.m. July 13. (Community Impact staff)
I-610 West Loop main lanes closed through weekend

All main lanes, both north and southbound, of the I-610 West Loop at the I-69 Southwest Freeway will be closed from 9 p.m. July 10 through 5 a.m. July 13.

In compliance with Gov. Greg Abbott's July 2 executive order, the University Interscholastic League is requiring the use of facial coverings when practical to do so for all summer activity participants, among other guidelines. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
UIL releases guidelines for conducting summer activities during COVID-19 pandemic

The University Interscholastic League released udpated guidelines for schools conducting summer activities such as sports training and marching band practices on July 8.

Craft Burger is one of 15 restaurants, catering companies and food trucks participating in this year's Black Restaurant Week. (Courtesy Craft Burger)
Houston's fifth annual Black Restaurant Week returns July 10-19

Participating patrons can play Black Restaurant Week Bingo and vote for their favorite participating eateries for a chance to win prizes such as restaurant gift cards, culinary treats and cash prizes.

The city of Houston confirmed only 204 new cases July 8, down from over 1,000 July 7, a discrepancy that officials attributed to a "computer system slowdown." (Community Impact Staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 701 new cases confirmed as hospitalizations hold steady July 8

The city of Houston confirmed only 204 new cases July 8—down from over 1,000 July 7—a discrepancy that officials attributed to a "computer system slowdown."

Six-thousand delegates were expected to attend the State of Texas Republican Party convention July 16-18. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
Houston First Corp. cancels Texas GOP convention under guidance from Mayor Turner

The decision came one week before 6,000 delegates were expected to attend the event at the George R. Brown Convention Center

Census worker
2020 census: Bureau prepares nonresponse follow-up field operations

For individuals who have not responded to the 2020 census, one of about 500,000 census takers will visit the their household between Aug. 11-Oct. 31.