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Waco: Hospitals forced to manage extreme weather event amid pandemic

Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 10:55 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Local hospitals which are already navigating the COVID-19 pandemic are also now having juggle an unprecedented weather event.

Hundreds of Waco-area businesses are closed due to snowstorms bringing single-digit temperatures to Central Texas, however, hospitals don’t have that option.

“Our campus has been impacted by the weather,” said Dr. Tameka Jones with Baylor Scott & White Medical Center - Hillcrest.

BSW officials say their teams practice emergency scenarios throughout the year, and over the last week they’ve been focused on preparing for extraordinary weather.

“Considering these things really don’t happen often, our teams have really pulled together and have executed well,” said Jones. “A few hiccups occurred, of course, when the ice hit, and some team members that were planning on coming couldn’t come in, but we had local team members that were here that were ready to jump in.”

“It has been pretty good, I give us an ‘A+,” said Jones. “It has really been a great showcase of team work.”

Hospital leaders have been making arrangements for team members to remain on-site at the hospital and at nearby hotels.

Ascension Providence officials released this statement Monday about the hospital’s response to the severe weather conditions.

“Ascension Providence hospital remains open and staffed as usual. Ascension Providence has an emergency response plan in place to provide uninterrupted patient care.
All Ascension Medical Group Providence clinics are closed today and tomorrow due to inclement weather, telemedicine visits are available. Ascension Medical Group Providence vaccine clinics are also closed through Wednesday. Ascension Providence outpatient health services are closed today and tomorrow.”

Both Waco hospitals continue to fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

“Prayer,” Jones said when asked how they’re managing to juggle the weather event amid the pandemic. “But because we’ve been doing COVID for so long now, we kind of have those practices memorized and so it’s business as usual for now, and now we’re focusing on keeping our patients safe, keeping our staff safe, and making sure that everyone can get to work safely and we can care for our patients safely.”

As of Feb. 13, the COVID-19 hospitalization rate for Trauma Service Area M, which includes McLennan County, was 12.75%, according to City of Waco officials.

BSW leadership is urging people to stay indoors and be careful when they go outside because, systemwide, emergency rooms are seeing an increase in weather-related injuries.

Representatives from BSW - Hillcrest released this statement Monday regarding weather-related closures and preparedness.

“Our teams continuously prepare throughout the year to safely provide care for our communities during a variety of situations. This preparedness includes hosting drills, testing backup power sources, practicing emergency communications systems, and more. Our leaders worked over the past week to prepare – making arrangements for team members to remain onsite at the hospital and at nearby hotels to accommodate those working during this unprecedented and prolonged winter storm. We are closely monitoring staffing needs and working quickly to deploy team members and resources as needed.

We urge the community to stay indoors when possible and to proceed with great caution if going out in these dangerous conditions, as we are seeing an increasing number of weather-related injuries in our emergency departments.

As a reminder, all Baylor Scott & White hospitals remain open. Baylor Scott & White clinics are providing care virtually through Tuesday, February 16, and drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites will be closed.

Virtual care options are available at MyBSWHealth.com or on the MyBSWHealth app. To download, text BETTER to 88408.

We appreciate the commitment of our staff who work to maintain our facilities, patient care and support services during this winter weather event.

Updates will be posted on BSWHealth.com and news.bswhealth.com.”

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