EDINBURG, Texas – Following a 1,000-plus percent increase in hospitalizations in just 30 days, caused by COVID-19, the five major private health systems in Hidalgo County are asking Hidalgo County Commissioners Court for financial help.
On Wednesday, the leaders of DHR Health, South Texas Health System, Mission Regional Medical Center, Rio Grande Regional Hospital, and Knapp Regional Medical Center sent a letter to Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez and County Commissioners David L. Fuentes, Eduardo Cantu, Joe M. Flores, and Ellie Torres.
“We ask the Commissioner’s Court to partner with our health systems and provide financial support from dedicated COVID-19 funding sources to the county’s hospitals exclusively for use towards COVID-19 response and to best ensure that Hidalgo County hospitals are able to continue providing care to county residents when they need it,” the health system leaders wrote.
The authors of the letter were Dr. Carlos Cardenas of DHR Health, Charles Stark of South Texas Health System, Kane Dawson of Mission Regional Medical Center, Cris Rivera of Rio Grande Regional Hospital, and Rene Lopez of Knapp Medical Center.
The letter says the health systems are “working tirelessly around-the-clock” to ensure the health and well-being of patients, staff, and the community.
The letter notes that the five health systems serve on the front line in protecting the community and saving lives. “The COVID-19 pandemic presents significant challenges which are we are meeting head-on everyday,” the letter states.
“From the outset of the pandemic, our health systems have acted early and undertaken a wide variety of measures to prepare for and respond to the public heath emergency, including but not limited to, retrofitting facilities, revamping standard procedures, innovating new ways to deliver safe and efficient health care, and expanding significant resources in adding capacity to be able to provide care for COVID-19 patients, the health system chiefs write.
However, the health system leaders note, a recent surge in COVID-19 cases over the past several weeks “and the resultant 1,000 percent increase in hospitalizations (based on data from the County)” is putting strain on the hospital systems – “both on a human and on a financial level.”
They say this “critical situation” is necessitating the immediate creation of additional capacity across all hospitals in the county. “To meet these urgent needs, we are making the necessary investments and incurring significant additional costs to ensure we have the capacity and ability to respond to fast and ever-changing circumstances,” the health system leaders write.
The letter continues: “The ability to staff COVID-19 patient units with a sufficient number of nurses, caregivers, and physicians is a major concern and continuing expense – including overtime, supplemental pay programs, and the cost to recruit, contract and lodge caregivers from outside the region. Additionally, retrofitting, renovating and/or building new facility space as well as securing the necessary equipment and supplies to respond to the COVID-19 surge is requiring substantial ongoing monetary investment.”
In asking for financial assistance, the five hospital systems thank the county judge and four county commissioners in advance of their for consideration of the request.
The hospital leaders attached to the letter a proposed distribution methodology that could be applied to any denomination shared with the health systems in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They believe funding formula would equitably distribute any denomination of funds allocated by the County, taking into account the overall number and severity of COVI-19 patients served by each hospital.
Here is the proposed formula:
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