GRMC fighting surge in COVID-19 cases
Just as the nation is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, Graham Regional Medical Center again finds itself fighting off a surge of cases in Young County. After experiencing difficulties in transferring patients to intensive care units at other hospitals, including failed attempts to find beds out of state, the hospital has been forced to create an Intensive Care Unit.
The hospital has been able to bring in nurses from out of state after Gov. Greg Abbott directed the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to utilize staffing agencies to provide medical personnel from out-of-state to Texas health care facilities to assist in COVID-19 operations. GRMC CEO Shane Kernell said during the August board of directors meeting, held Aug. 22, that the hospital has five nurses and two respiratory therapists from out of state. The cost is covered by DSHS.
This has allowed the hospital to create four ICU units in the hospital. Previously the hospital ran no units and has no plans to open them permanently.
“We had the key ingredients,” Kernell said. “We have eight or nine ventilators. We have a few ICU-trained nurses, we just need more people so that we can have that kind of care 24/7. That’s been the biggest factor. We’ve borrowed the ICU protocol from United Regional. The standard of care you would get in our ICU units is the standard you would get at any other ICU. We’ve got the same nurses, we’ve got the same ventilators and the same techs.”
Kernell said they will be here until Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. The hospital hopes to retain services or receive replacements in October, but could not confirm if that will be possible. The hospital is also looking for ways to house the temporary nurses in Graham. Currently, they are brought in via a rental van from Weatherford. The nurses live under strict guidelines, according to Kernell. The agency finds hotel rooms for the staff and requires them to be within a 20-minute radius of the room when not working. They work six 12-hour shifts with one day off.
Kernell stressed that it is a very concerning situation right now regarding the Delta variant and patients requiring a ventilator.
“It’s not that everyone who goes on a vent are dying, because that is not the cause,” Kernell said. “But when a patient goes on one, the longer they are on it, it’s a less and less chance of a positive outcome. It’s a very bad situation.”
For the rest of the story, see the Sept. 1 edition of The Graham Leader.