As COVID-19 spikes, Harris County healthcare system is coming under huge strain

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Health care workers have been working around the clock for months battling COVID-19, and with a recent spike in cases, many will still have to continue on fighting.

"You walk in the door, and you're going to get reports immediately on two, three, maybe four really, really sick patients," said Maureen Padilla, Executive VP & Chief Nursing Executive at Harris Health System.

Many of the healthcare workers have been putting in 12 hour shifts and dealing with difficult factors.

"You come out of a room drenched because of the gear that's on for your own protection as well as your family's," said Padilla.

Harris Health System is comprised of Lyndon B. Johnson and Ben Taub. They've added more beds for patients and more staff to treat the patients.

While they have been able to maintain staffing, it's still been a challenge.

"We've had a good number of our staff get sick and become COVID positive, so they can't work for 10 to 14 days," said Padilla.

While they've been able to maintain staffing levels thanks to relocating positions and adding nurses, they are running out of beds.

"We are having patients wait anywhere from 24 to 48 hours in the EC (emergency center) trying to find a bed for them," said Padilla.

They're transferring patients to other hospitals, but those too are filling up. Other hospitals may have a bed but don't have enough staff.

In fact, hundreds of patients were left waiting for a bed last week, some of that due to staffing. As for nurses in a system under strain, they will continue their unwavering efforts to provide the best care possible.

"Healthcare has always been challenging. This has been the most challenging event I have seen in my 30 year career," said Padilla.

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