WESLACO – Rio Grande Valley hospitals are at capacity and one is already setting up medical services in their parking lot. The South Texas Health System ER in Weslaco has set up a tent in their ambulance area as a result of the massive influx of COVID-19 patients.

Hospital Director, Pablo Laredo said all emergency rooms in the RGV are overwhelmed. The tent added to his hospital would allow an additional 20 patients to receive treatment.

“We have about 14 that we can hold in house. We are trying to reserve our in house ER for the sicker patients, we do have them isolated with the filter,” he said.

The 25-foot tent was deployed as part of the region’s emergency response effort. In 2008 the City of Weslaco purchased the tent with federal grant money and has been used for multiple emergency situations since.

“The plan is to staff it with a practitioner, two nurses, and an ER tech. We did request it for at least two weeks but we could extend it if need be,” Laredo added.

Laredo believes placing the tent in their Weslaco location will allow residents of surrounding cities to have easier access to medical care.

“Weslaco is in the central of the Rio Grande Valley and we have a lot of high traffic that goes through here and the facility here is one of the highest volume for free standing emergency departments so it would be beneficial,” he stated.

Officials say depending on the number of COVID-19 patients they receive, the tent may be used to only treat and separate those with non COVID related emergencies. Doctors ask the community to help them and nurses by doing their part in wearing masks, staying home, and social distancing.