Hospitals working to conserve water as most vulnerable remain top of mind

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As millions of residents in Harris County continue to have water issues from low pressure to having no water at all, the Houston-area's hospital systems say they are open and operating, but many are under water conservation.

At Texas Children's Hospital, two of its three campuses have reduced water pressure. The same goes for Ben Taub Hospital, LBJ Hospital, and Memorial Hermann.

"You have to remember, the folks at the hospitals are the most vulnerable folks," said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo on Wednesday.

Hospitals across our area say they are in need of three major things right now: oxygen, water for the HVAC systems, and transportation of supplies.

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WATCH: Hear from the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council about what area hospitals are doing to keep afloat during severe weather conditions.



This is all according to the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council, which is a coalition of health providers in our region.

"After 3 p.m. really, it is very difficult to drive on the roads. As it gets darker and you have ice on the roads, it is very difficult to send people out," Adam Lee with SETRAC said. "Even transporting patients at night has become increasingly difficult unless you are a really critical patient that needs to get to a specialized facility. We're working to... identify ways to get them there."

The coalition said people are getting so desperate to warm up, they've been showing up to local hospitals without any medical needs, just wanting to sit inside the buildings in order to stay warm.

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As we're still facing the COVID-19 crisis, hospitals are also taking in patients with hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning. Memorial Hermann said they've seen 100 CO poisoning cases since Monday.

Doctors calling it a "very serious public health emergency" tell ABC13, "We have seen both adults and patients in our emergency rooms as people without power do anything they can to keep their families warm."

Now, with low water pressure and many cities under a boil advisory, hospitals continue to persevere.



"It creates problems for just the general operation of the hospital ... think cleaning, toilets, that kind of thing," said Hidalgo.

As area leaders work to restore this basic utility, the goal is to push through together.

"We are working with the state to bring in additional water," said Mark Sloan, the emergency management coordinator for Harris County. "We have found additional resources for them when we can. We are all in this together, but our hospitals, [Hidalgo] mentioned, is where the most vulnerable are impacted by this, and the focus is to get them online as quickly and as effectively as possible."

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