Rural Central Texas hospital still struggles through pandemic

Staff forced to decide who gets antibody infusion medication, COVID PCR tests
Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 6:43 PM CDT
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CLIFTON, Texas (KWTX) - Staff at Goodall-Witcher Hospital in Clifton told News 10 that transferring patients to hospitals with available ICU beds still takes a strong effort and dozens of calls. Last week they found one in Lubbock for a local patient and say the fact that he could stay in Texas is a win.

A month ago, staff was calling hundreds of numbers across the state and surrounding states with little to no luck.

Staff at the hospital say they have fewer COVID-19 patients now, but it changes day-to-day.

“Whether it’s supply issues, testing issues, transfer issues, you wake up and it’s like ‘what’s today’s issue?’” hospital CEO Adam Willman explained.

Right now, the hospital has two additional nurses on hand, sent from New York City to help the rural hospital with its staffing shortage.

Chief Nursing Officer Joycesarah McCabe said the hospital also got two mobile negative pressure machines, giving them the ability to turn any room in the hospital into a negative pressure room, a tool critical in keeping infectious diseases like COVID-19 from spreading within the hospital.

She also said they got a shipment of IV pumps, something they asked for after having to perform so many antibody infusions, a proven early treatment to help fight COVID-19, but even that has presented challenges.

“Before, we were a little short on the IV pumps but had the medication, now we have the extra pumps and are short on the medication,” McCabe said.

The antibody treatment medication is on short supply across the country, forcing the federal government to decide who gets it and how much.

“Our pharmacist placed an order. It was cancelled,” Willman said.

“The physicians will have to determine now which patients are most appropriate to receive the medication,” said David Zschiesche, the director of pharmacy at Goodall-Witcher.

Similarly, the hospital is seeing a shortage of COVID PCR tests.

“We’ve ordered them. We’ve asked for them, but the answer we get is ‘no,’” McCabe explained.

“We’re having to tailor who gets a test based on needs and priorities so that we don’t run out,” Willman added.

“I know that some of the pressure has been relieved but its not to the point yet that there’s not still a lot of struggles,” Willman said.

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