In the last seven days, Houston Methodist hospitals have had 1,500 staff members test positive for COVID-19, the largest number of cases among hospital system employees since the pandemic began according to Roberta Schwartz, Houston Methodist's executive vice president.
“It’s challenging each day to be able to staff every bed that we’d like to staff,” Schwartz said.
Although case numbers have reached record numbers in the last two weeks, hospitalizations have not. According to Public Relations Program Manager Patti Muck, one employee of the system's roughly 27,000 was hospitalized as of Jan. 5.
The employees to test positive span across the system's departments and hospitals. Despite more than 5% of the hospital’s staff contracting COVID-19, Texas has little aid to send, Schwartz said.
“Within this week and next week, I think we’ll get six nurses from the state,” Schwartz said. “The state also does their best, but some people get sick on that list as well.”
Harris County is reporting over 71,000 active cases with new cases trending upward. County officials are looking to acquire additional nurses for hospitals as cases are projected to continue rising.
COVID-19 general bed hospitalizations reached 1,733 people on Jan. 5, approaching a peak from August of just under 2,190, according to the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council. Intensive care unit hospitalizations have not risen as sharply, with 333 COVID-19 patients reported Jan. 5, compared to a peak of 708 in September.
With health care workers being pushed to the brink yet again, Schwartz urged the public to take the latest surge of the pandemic seriously.
“Each of these waves have been challenging for our health care workers, and to do it for a fifth time, one which may achieve record levels, is disconcerting," Schwartz said. "Everyone really does need to do their part, to appreciate how much these health care workers are giving to be there for their communities time and time and time and time and time and time again.”