Federal and state resources offer help to hospitals filled with COVID-19 patients

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Health Authority for the Houston Health Department Dr. David Persse said a federal assessment team has arrived in Houston to help with equipment, personnel, and technology, along with offering whatever else the medical community needs to fight novel coronavirus.

Over the weekend, Dr. Persse said the state of Texas sent 120 nurses to the region, providing support and relief for an already taxed front line.

"The healthcare system is working hard," he said at an afternoon press briefing at City Hall. "They are increasing capacity both physically and with human resources, but it's taking an awful lot of effort. The expanding operation that hospitals are engaged in is creating more beds and also providing some relief to some of their exhausted now. As you can imagine, this is a dynamic, constantly evolving situation. But, we are starting to get help from outside."

New hospitalizations averaged 360 cases daily last week in the Texas Medical Center. That number was up more than a hundred from the week before, nearly double the week before that, four and a half times greater than one month ago.

While there is cause for worry, Dr. Ben Saldana with Methodist Hospital says there is capacity, and maintaining that capacity is within our control.

"The way that we turn that concern into action is most important," Saldana said. "So again, it's the things that we know need to happen and continue to happen. Socially distancing in public. Wearing your mask in public. Just being aware of your own symptoms."

Beyond that, the other cause for hope is treatment. The medical community is learning more about the virus every day. And some of that knowledge is reducing the need for ventilators in some cases.

"Allowing them just a little bit of oxygen, and then, allowing them some belly sleeping and side sleeping helped aerate the lungs that did not have the viral disease burden," he said.

St. Luke's Health told ABC13 it is bringing in contract nurses and also working with their national organization to assist where needed.

At Methodist, there is a team that works with other hospitals to identify lack of capacity and share patients where space is available.

"The way that we create and maintain capacity is with the help of the public," Saldana said. "We've flattened the curve. We can do this again. And it's not too late. But it's important for us to take this very serious."

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