This morning we had only seven patients in the COVID unit and none on ventilators but all of them on cpaps (continuous positive airway pressure) and high volume oxygen. 

In the emergency room there were three patients under investigation. 

That is the lowest number we have had in many, many, many days. There was a time when we had designated 28 beds and all 28 beds were full. So we were having to transfer patients out, and unfortunately out of the region because every single hospital was the same as us. They were completely full. So we did have to transfer many, many patients out of the region. Right now the situation has eased off quite a bit and we’re very, very, happy about that. 

The situation, fortunately, seems to be improving. We have seen a decrease in the number of cases and I am so pleased to be able to report that. We had a time when it was very, very, difficult. Our hospital was full with COVID patients. That number has decreased somewhat. 

Our staff really was excellent. They really came out and did what they had to do. And we did get plenty of help, which we truly appreciate. We got help from the state, we got help from the federal government. We got really, really, excellent nurses and doctors. We have got two or three (visiting) doctors right now. We got respiratory therapists and lab technicians, which were an extreme asset in enhancing what we already had in our staff. 

We are very, very, fortunate that although we are a small, rural, hospital, we’ve always had excellent, excellent staff. Very well educated, very well prepared staff. This hospital has always, always, always promoted continuing education for our staff, and people have taken advantage of that, which is a very good thing. That is truly appreciated and it is a very big asset to our community.

Again, I want to thank the staff. I want to thank all the extra help we have gotten. We have not only had extra human beings, qualified people, professionals, but we also got equipment. Not that our hospital did not have the equipment. We had a lot of equipment. But, when the cases came it was a tremendous increase in the load of patients. 

And again, the patients were really, really, sick. The level of illness was very, very severe, so we needed more respirators, we needed more equipment and they came through immediately and we were able to get all the medical equipment and the personnel we needed. 

Again, I want to reiterate, the number of cases are decreasing and the severity of illness seems to be decreasing also. We are not out of the woods by any means. We are still seeing cases in the emergency room, we still have inpatients. But, not the big number we had. We still have some. 

We had increased the number of beds to be able to provide for the COVID patients and isolation rooms. We have now decreased that number also, because we are now getting prepared for the regular flu that might be coming up. So, again, I think we are doing better and I hope this continues. 

Editor’s Note: The above commentary is based upon remarks Thalia H. Muñoz gave at a news conference in Starr County on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. Muñoz is CEO and Administrator for Starr County Memorial Hospital in Rio Grande City, Texas. The news conference was called by local health officials to give an update on the coronavirus pandemic in Starr County.

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