Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital says ER is at 'critical capacity'

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As hospital emergency rooms work through capacity issues and limited bed space, an email labeled 'critical' sent by Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital paints a grim picture of what medical staff is enduring amid rising COVID-19 cases.

In an internal email issued to employees on Friday, the hospital said it has 90 patients in its 20-bed emergency department with more than 50 people waiting for a bed.

"We need and request that the entire medical staff rally together to help," read the email obtained by ABC13.

The hospital is asking that staff see all inpatient consults within two hours of a consultation request.

The video above is from an Aug. 5 report published by ABC13 on troubling wait times and staff shortages amid the COVID surge in Houston.

"If additional testing and/or treatments are needed that are not urgently related to the current admission, please arrange for them to be performed after discharge as an outpatient," read the email.

Houston Methodist Hospital told ABC13 on Thursday that staff is having to treat patients in hallways and waiting rooms.

Meanwhile, Harris Health System said LBJ Hospital has been operating under an 'internal disaster' code on an on-and-off basis since Sunday.

READ ALSO: Houston Methodist ER running at full capacity amid COVID surge: 'Highest I've ever seen'

The code means its emergency department is so saturated with acutely ill patients that ambulances are being diverted.

"We're looking at a much more serious situation, even compared to last year, and last year was devastating for so many people and so many hospitals," said Matthew Schlueter, the chief nursing officer of ambulatory care with the Harris Health System. "We are way over our comfortable capacity."

Schlueter said with nearly no bed availability, it's a high-pressure situation.

"Right now, if you're not on death's door with the most critical situation ... very high likelihood you'll have to wait in our waiting room," he said.

Plus, Schlueter said wait times are soaring.

"To get a bed, it could be up to 24 hours right now," he said.

READ MORE: 11-month-old with COVID sent to hospital 150 miles away due to lack of bed space in Houston
EMBED More News Videos

Illustrating the critical shortage seen by the Texas Medical Center, an 11-month-old girl with COVID had to be flown 150 miles away for care simply because there was no room for her in town.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.