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Local Health Officials Say All ICU Beds Are In Use In McLennan County

Dustin Drew
Baylor Scott & White Hospital - Hillcrest Campus

COVID cases are on the rise in Waco and McLennan County.  As KWBU’s Dustin Drew explains, local hospitals are full and are starting to have to make critical care decisions.

Waco Mayor, Dillon Meek along with county health officials and community leaders held a virtual press conference on Wednesday morning, all urging people to get vaccinated.

The Waco McLennan County Public Health District COVID website, says that only 44% of the people in McLennan County over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated as of August 24th, and there were 263 new cases of COVID.

“According to the Heart of Texas Regional Advisory Council, the McLennan County hospitalizations are at 164.  Of those, 7.65 percent of those have been vaccinated, leaving 92.35 percent of those unvaccinated.  This speaks to the message we’ve already heard, the vaccinations work.”

LaShonda Malrey-Horne is the Director of Public Health Services for the Waco McLennan County Public Health district, and says that all 54 ICU beds in the county are in use, and that 45 of those are for COVID patients.  She also says that over 92 percent of the people currently on ventilators have not been vaccinated.

Dr. Brian Becker is the Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs at Ascension Providence and says that we are at a critical point in the fight against COVID 19, and the rising numbers are discouraging.

“Currently, our facilities have sufficient capacity and staff to continue to care for patients with a variety of medical needs.  Our nurses and physicians are exhausted as our hospital faces a critical shortage of nurses and support staff.”  

Dr. Becker says that the emergency rooms have been extremely busy, and that they are having to maintain some hospital patients in the emergency room making for longer than normal wait times.

“Certainly, our emergency room is open, and will be open for walk in traffic.  We will continue to take care of the needs of the community as necessary, but I do urge you to consider other options.”

He says that an express care visit or a trip to a free-standing emergency room may be a better option for your health care needs.

When it comes to staffing, Dr. Becker says that Ascension has reached out for state assistance for nursing as well as respiratory therapy.

“I’m happy to report that has been approved, and we have begun to see some of those individuals arrive at our facility over the last week and a half, which has increased our capacity to care for patients.”

Dr. Umad Ahmad says that 40 percent of the acute care beds at Baylor Scott and White Hillcrest are being used by COVID patients, and that’s a lot of beds being used to treat one disease.

“This time go around, the patients are younger, they are sicker, and we are also seeing pregnant patients, and we are also seeing children getting involved with Delta and getting sicker.  And that McLane Children’s Hospital is helping us, being our partner, in helping our children’s population.”

Dr. Ahmad says that the vaccination is our golden ticket to get out of this pandemic, and that if you haven’t been vaccinated, to wear a mask and social distance.

The Waco McLennan County Public Health District is offering free COVID vaccines every Monday through Friday at their campus on Waco Drive, and soon they will be offering the booster shot to those who need it.

For a complete list of where you can get the vaccine, visit the website, Covid Waco dot com.