AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The Hereford Regional Medical Center now has a medical tent set-up in their emergency room parking lot to prepare for an expected surge in cases after holiday gatherings.
The CEO of the Hereford Regional Medical Center, Jeff Barnhart, says he requested the tent from the state as a preventative measure and will be used for non-COVID-19 patients to continue receiving treatment without having to be transferred
The hospital has 43 total beds with two of them being used for ICU. In the past couple of days, cases have been significantly growing and last week the hospital went from having 12 patients to 20 in just a matter of hours.
The CEO says that recent surge brought fear about what the next couple of months could hold.
“It’s this hospital filling up, my ER filling up, and these trucks sitting under my canopy with patients in with nowhere to go, that is my biggest fear,” said Jeff Barnhart, CEO of Hereford Regional Medical Center
He says a big surge, like the one expected after the holidays, would easily overwhelm their system.
Like many other hospitals, Hereford has struggled with transferring patients, having to send some to Dallas, Fort Worth, Albuquerque and Oklahoma City.
“Trying to get them to the right place to make sure that they are taken care of properly and as soon as possible. That could get a little overwhelming sometimes, even with trying to get these patients transferred to other facilities can be really stressful,” said Samantha Dominguez, registered nurse for the emergency room at the Hereford Regional Medical Center “That is what has been really different, is not being able to get them where they need to go in a timely manner.”
The hospital has previously been able to help other regions with their overflow of patients, but Barnhart says they must able to respond to their community now, which is what they hope to do with the space from the tent.
The hospital will also receive nurses from FEMA to assist with the additional beds, which they say is extremely helpful as nurses are working extra hours and barely have time to eat.
“Our spirits are good, but we are tired. We are all human and seeing what we see here, we had four deaths yesterday and you know I’m sorry as a human that bothers me, that is not normal,” said Barnhart “Even though we work in a hospital, that breaks my heart.”
He says they are doing everything possible to help the situation. The additional space will also allow them to continue elective procedures and serve trauma, cardiac, and surgical patients.
The tents will have an oxygen concentrate and have negative pressure to be as sanitary as possible.
To deal with weather, the tent was created to hold up to 14 inches of snow, sustain 80 mile per hour winds and 100 mile per hour gusts.
Because this is all preventative, currently there are no patients waiting to take up beds in the tent and the staff members hope they don’t have to use it at all.
However, if it does come down to it, they say they will be glad they prepared.
The emergency room remains open, but patients are to be dropped off in the circle driveway and park in the main parking lot.
As of Tuesday, there are 189 active cases of COVID-19 in Deaf Smith County. The City of Hereford reported 54 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday morning.