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

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston Methodist Hospital's emergency department is running at full capacity as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

"The volume is probably the highest I've ever seen it in all my years here," said ER nurse manager Danielle Butler-Winey.

She told ABC13 the volume is a combination of severely ill patients flooding their ER amid a surge of COVID-19 cases.

"We are seeing an increase in COVID numbers, probably more so than we have this whole entire pandemic," said Butler-Winey.

Their COVID case load is likely to grow. The Houston Chronicle released a new chart using data from UT Austin to project a missile-fire take-off in COVID ICU cases in the weeks to come.

"It is unvaccinated people coming in with COVID," she said.

The influx of ER patients has also created a domino effect on hospital bed wait times.

The average wait time before the pandemic was around four hours. Now, it's much longer, according to Butler-Winey.

SEE ALSO: 'Ample chance' for more dangerous COVID variant if more Americans aren't vaccinated, Fauci says

She said ER staff are now treating patients in the waiting rooms and hallways to make sure they receive care while they endure the long wait for a bed.

"Blood draws. We give antibiotics. We give medicine. Whatever they need. We're doing it so that we can bring care to the patient," Butler-Winey said.

The latest surge is also prompting more closures.

On Wednesday, Moody Gardens announced its Palm Beach attraction closed until Friday after an outbreak of COVID cases among staff.

The organization told ABC13 that 10 staff members tested positive. Six of them worked at Palm Beach.

It's a fraction of its 600 employees, but a significant increase in cases for the business, which reported only one COVID case in the month of June.

Amid the surge of ER needs, experts are asking you to seek non-emergency treatment at a neighborhood urgent care and to wear your mask. Above all else, doctors urge you to get vaccinated.

SEE ALSO: Moderna vaccine remains 93% effective against symptomatic COVID for up to 6 months, company says

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