No pediatric ICU beds left in Dallas amid COVID surge, county judge says

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Friday there were no pediatric intensive care beds available in Dallas, Texas, and there have been none in the past 24 hours. Increasing COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant and hospital staff shortages in the area may be partly to blame.

“In Dallas, we have zero ICU beds for children,” Jenkins said at a virtual news conference Friday. “That means if your child is in a car accident, if your child has a congenital heart defect or something and needs an ICU bed, or more likely if they have COVID and need an ICU bed, we don’t have one. Your child will wait until another child dies.”

He said the same is true for children’s ICU beds in the 19 surrounding provinces, noting that young patients may need to be transported further afield for care.

“Your child just won’t get on a ventilator,” he said. “Your child will be taken to Temple of Oklahoma City or wherever we can find a bed, but they won’t get a bed here unless one cleans up and it’s been that way for 24 hours.”

As of Aug. 6, 573 children ages 0 to 17 had been hospitalized due to COVID-19 complications in Dallas County since the start of the pandemic, according to weekly data published by the Dallas County Department of Health.

HOUSTON, TX – JULY 2: (EDITORS ONLY) Members of medical staff rest on a stretcher in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at United Memorial Medical Center on July 2, 2020 in Houston, Texas. The number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations has risen since Texas reopened, pushing intensive care units to full capacity and raising concerns about an increase in fatalities as the virus spreads. / Getty Images

Jenkins said the ICU capacity isn’t much better for adults in the area, either.

More than 90% of the ICU beds in all of Texas are full, leaving only 321 beds for the 30 million people in the state. A doctor at LBJ Hospital in Houston said some patients may have to wait hours or days before being seen by a health professional.

“The ICUs are full,” Dr. Kunal Sharma, chief of emergency room at LBJ Hospital, to CBS News’ Janet Shamlian. “Every bed is accounted for.”

North Texas ICU capacity issues are also accompanied by hospital staffing shortages. State health officials this week warned lawmakers of the “crisis,” which they say is on the brink of “disaster.”

“I’m afraid of what’s to come,” said Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, the CEO of the Harris County hospital district, told the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services on Tuesday. He said that if the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase at the pace they are going, “My hospital is not going to be able to handle this in any way. There is no way the region can handle this.”

Dallas Parkland Hospital, one of the largest in the country, said it needs an additional 500 nurses and some pregnant patients have been sent to other hospitals to receive care due to staff shortages.

“I am dealing with a workforce that is tired, overworked and under constant siege,” Porsa told the commission.

As a means of easing pressure on suffering hospitals, Jenkins highlighted an order he signed Wednesday requiring public schools, daycare centers and businesses in Dallas County to develop health and safety plans that include at least requirements for face masks for employees and visitors. . . Texas Governor Greg Abbott has filed a petition to stop it.

“Our hospitals and our people urgently need time to ramp up bed capacity and physician capacity so that their hospitals are not overrun,” he said.

Earlier this week, Jenkins also sued Abbott over the executive order banning mask mandates, and a district judge issued a temporary injunction to stop it. A hearing on the temporary ban against the ban on mask mandates is scheduled for August 24.

“[It’s] don’t ask so much of people to wear a mask,” Jenkins said Friday.

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