Texas to help overwhelmed hospitals with more medical staff, but where will the money come from?

Wednesday, August 11, 2021
Texas to help overwhelmed hospitals with more medical staff
Hospitals say they're on board with the idea, but are wondering how will this be funded?

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Health officials said it could be weeks before COVID-19 cases peak in the Houston-area.

Meanwhile, we continue to see ICUs and hospitals at capacity as the highly-contagious delta variant continues to spread.

It's so bad that hundreds of patients have been admitted to the hospital but have been left waiting for a bed.

According to the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council, in a 25-county region, 591 patients had been admitted to a hospital, but were still waiting for a bed. Three patients had been admitted into the ICU and were still waiting for a bed.

Hospital officials said it's not just bed space, but staffing has proven to be the real issue.

READ ALSO: Houston ICU nurse pens heartbreaking letter on COVID pandemic

She describes her day-to-day life as "exhausting" and said she and her team feel anger, fear, trauma and despair as each day goes on.

On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott said the state will be utilizing staffing agencies to provide medical personnel from out-of-state to assist with the shortage.

Hospitals back the idea, but are wondering how this will be funded?

Medical officials, including the CEO of Houston Methodist Hospital, appeared before a Texas Senate committee to discuss that issue on Tuesday.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) said federal funds have already been allocated to Texas cities and counties, and some of that funding could possibly be used for staffing.

However, it's unclear how much money is still available.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo's office said it's in touch with local hospitals to determine staffing needs, and all options are on the table as far as what they can do.

Meanwhile, hospitals said they could really use the help.

"We're hopeful we can get some help from the state," said Dr. David Callender, the president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Hospital. "We know that there have been some federal dollars that have been allocated for this, but it's unclear exactly how the state or some of the local municipalities can find those funds and use them. Some of those have already been distributed or applied to other purposes."

Aside from the staffing shortage, doctors and nurses are now working longer hours and picking up extra shifts.

"We'll continue to work with the House and Senate to look at all the funding sources that are out there," said TDEM Chief Nim Kidd. "We talked [Tuesday] about having some kind of cost share with either the hospitals or the local communities."

In Harris County, COVID ICU hospitalizations are up 400% from a month ago.

For updates on this report, follow ABC13 reporter Marla Carter on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram.