HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Temporary nurses started arriving at Houston-area hospitals on Wednesday to address the overwhelming staffing shortage as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to spike.
Gov. Greg Abbott and the Department of State Human Services (DSHS) announced they would work with out-of-state staffing agencies to bring in 2,500 nurses to Texas. While Houston-area hospitals appreciate the help, more help is needed.
Statewide, DSHS said 13,000 additional medical personnel have been requested to address the need.
Again, as of Wednesday evening, DSHS is able to assist with about a fifth of what's needed.
Memorial Hermann requested 800 medical personnel, but are only getting 20.
"We know that we're probably not yet at the peak of the surge, although, we hope we're getting close," said president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Dr. David Callender. "Our people have been working very hard. We're extraordinarily busy, and with this sort of volum, we can always use more people."
LBJ and Ben Taub hospitals, which are part of the Harris Health System, said they have about 400 nurse openings right now. They're getting a total of 80 medical personnel to assist between the two hospitals.
While they need more hands on deck, they say the assistance is making a difference.
Harris Health System has been working to open a tent outside of LBJ Hospital to assist with the surge. The final piece was simply adding staff.
Now that 40 out-of-state traveling nurses have arrived, they will be able to open the tent. The plan is for it to be fully operational sometime this week.
On top of the shortage, there's also the issue of wait times.
The Harris Health System said some patients have been left waiting a day or two just to get a bed.
DSHS said it's having trouble finding additional staffing. In the end, hundreds of people in a medical emergency are left waiting for a bed.
According to the SouthEast Texas Regional Advisory Council, in a 25-county region, data showed that on Tuesday, 678 patients were waiting for a general admission bed and less than half of them had COVID.
The Texas Division of Emergency Management said FEMA will reimburse local jurisdictions at 100% of the expense, for COVID-related costs, so that could cover personal protective equipment or temporary nursing.