Hospitals wait if state will send medical personnel to the RGV as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise

Local News

HIDALGO, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Health officials are sounding the alarm on hospital capacity and staffing shortages.

“July 1 we had 46 people hospitalized in Hidalgo County, today we have 435,” said Dr. Ivan Melendez, Hidalgo County Health Authority.

Dr. Melendez shares that his concern is not only the rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations but the fact they are currently facing a shortage of nurses.

“These nurses that we need are simply just not available, most of the administrators I’ve spoken to tell me there’s about a 30-40% shortage in nurses.”  

Dr. Melendez adds the 30-40% shortage includes nurses across all hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley. He said this shortage is different than last year’s. 

“Last year we had the benefit of the federal and state government, they were sending federal and state actual employees,” said Dr. Melendez. “This year we don’t have that, we’re depending on our staffing agencies and of course there’s a fight for these nurses and you can imagine supply and demand.”

Governor Greg Abbott announced Wednesday, the Texas Department of State Health Services will deploy more than 2,500 medical personnel to help hospitals across Texas, but there is no word on if any of those will be coming to the RGV.

“Our emergency manager is definitely involved and in conversation with them so the assumption is that when they do get these 2,500 people that we’ll certainly get a share of it,” he said.  

While hospitals wait to hear if they will receive help, Dr. Melendez has one message for the community.

“Even though I want the people to rest assured if they are sick, they can come to the hospital they’ll be taken care of but we are pushing the limits,” he said.

Dr. Melendez is urging those with non-emergency medical attention to reach out to their primary doctor first to help the workload of hospitals. 

According to Governor Abbott, the first deployment of personnel will be fully funded by the state through Sept. 30 for hospitals across Texas.

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