Nueces County to request help from state to cover Corpus Christi's overwhelmed hospitals

Ashlee Burns
Corpus Christi Caller Times

The Coastal Bend Regional Advisory Council is preparing to request over 500 medical personnel to assist as Nueces County has the highest COVID-19 hospitalization rate in Texas, Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales announced on Wednesday.

A patient at the COVID-19 unit at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Health System in Edinburg. The U.S. Navy has deployed teams to help deal with coronavirus surges in the Rio Grande Valley and other Texas hot spots.

In late June, the COVID-19 hospitalization rate for Nueces County and its surrounding counties was under 2%. As of Aug. 3, the hospitalization rate was 50% higher than the state average.

More:Coronavirus: Here's a list of counties in South Texas with positive COVID-19 cases

In three weeks, Nueces County's hospitalization rate increased from 5% to over 25%, Texas Department of State Health Services data showed.

In three weeks, Nueces County's hospitalization rate increased from 5% to over 25%. Between Aug. 3 and Aug. 9, the hospitalization rate increased by over 12%.

DSHS data showed no available ICU beds in Nueces County's trauma service area on Aug. 9. There were 166 available ventilators and 363 confirmed COVID-19 patients. 

Along with limited resources, South Texas hospitals also face a shortage of nurses as admissions rise, with all area hospitals currently unable to accept patients.

"Unfortunately, the number of beds is not necessarily an accurate indicator of our capacity," Canales said during a news conference on Tuesday. "We have more beds than nurses to attend to patients in those beds."

Canales said she expects the State of Texas Assistance Request to include over 545 personnel just for the Coastal Bend.

The state previously hired staffing companies to send travel nurses and medical professionals to help in hospitals with increased admissions. 

"Last year and through the spring, the state of Texas sent Nueces County hundreds and hundreds of medical personnel from contract nurses, medical response teams, medical professionals from the Texas Army National Guard and the Texas State Guard," Canales said. "Those medical professionals were sent home as the vaccine slowed the spread of the original coronavirus and the pandemic appeared to be in retreat."

This week, the county announced the opening of two rapid infusion centers in Corpus Christi and Robstown that will provide IV treatment to high-risk COVID-19 patients who are referred by physicians. The goal is to help COVID-19 positive patients recover without the need for hospitalization.

More:Nueces County opens rapid infusion centers for high-risk COVID-19 patients

Mayor Paulette Guajardo urged the community to get vaccinated during a public health briefing on Wednesday.

Guajardo announced a new in-home vaccination program for residents beginning Thursday, Aug. 12. Those 12 and older can sign up by calling 361-826-2489 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. 

More news

More:Nueces County COVID-19 vaccine tracker: 42% of people fully vaccinated

More:COVID-19: Nueces County seeks state help for vaccines, treatment

More:Corpus Christi-area school districts unveil COVID-19 safety protocols for new school year

Ashlee Burns covers trending and breaking news in South Texas. See our subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe