Freestanding ERs holding COVID patients for days due to lack of hospital beds

Hospitality Health ER doctor: “We’re having to hold patients up to three, four or five days”
Hospitality Health ER in Tyler
Hospitality Health ER in Tyler(Blake Holland/KLTV)
Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 7:19 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2021 at 7:24 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - With COVID-19 hospitalizations setting new records in Tyler and Longview, freestanding emergency rooms are having to hold sick patients in their facilities for several days until a hospital bed becomes available.

“This is something we never imagined happening and never wanted to ever happen,” said Jeffrey Beers, MD at Hospitality Health ER in Tyler, about the current wave of illness. “And it’s worse than we imagined it being right now.”

We spoke with Dr. Beers on Wednesday afternoon outside of what used to be a bank next door to Hospitality Health ER in Tyler. But since January, it’s been another place for them to keep COVID-19 patients.

“We have these makeshift locations,” he said. “So we’ve converted an old bank into an area where we can see patients and take care of them.”

Beers said they typically send patients to the hospital if they need ongoing oxygen or treatment, but he said that’s a tough task these days.

“We’re having to hold patients up to three, four or five days, waiting on beds to be available at the hospital. It’s stressing the hospitals and it’s stressing us, because we’re not able to take care of the emergency room patients, because we’re taking care of ICU patients.”

Like other medical facilities in East Texas, Hospitality Health ER is finding success with antibody infusions. A treatment authorized for use in patients who are not already hospitalized, but at risk for severe illness.

“It does a very good job of minimizing the severity of the illness,” Beers said. “So in many ways, it does a good job of keeping you from having to be admitted to hospital with pneumonia, but also gets you back to work faster.”

But Beers and other medical experts agree that vaccination remains a person’s best bet at avoiding the worst of COVID-19.

“Even though I’m vaccinated, I can get sick,” Beers said. “But it’s more like a typical light flu type situation, where I don’t feel good for a couple days and then I’m back to normal.”

When it comes to antibody infusions, the chief medical officer of UT Health East Texas said on Tuesday that Smith County leaders are currently working with the state to set up a regional antibody infusion center in the Tyler area. An announcement is expected in the coming days.

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