Travel nurses remain at Amarillo hospitals, number of COVID patients remains steady

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 12:13 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Amarillo hospitals are continuing to receive help from the state to staff their facilities, as the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 remains somewhat steady.

New positive case numbers in Potter and Randall began to rise in July, after a period of low numbers during the summer.

This fall, hospitals are seeing a steady rate of 40 to 70 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at any given time.

“When these patients are admitted, they stick for a while,” said Dr. Brian Weis, chief medical officer at NWTHS.

Northwest is currently caring for 43 patients with COVID-19; 19 of those patients are in the ICU and 13 are on ventilators.

To care for a number of patients requiring intensive care, the hospital continues to utilize support staff from the RAC.

“We are mostly RAC dependent in terms of traveling nurses,” said Dr. Weis. “We’ve been assured they will stay until the end of October at least.”

BSA is caring for 53 patients with COVID-19; 25 patients are in the ICU; 20 are on ventilators and 5 are in the intermediate care unit.

The hospital currently employs 55 travel nurses, has 56 RAC nurses and “about 10 respiratory therapists” from the RAC.

Dr. Michael Lamanteer, chief medical officer at BSA, said the hospital hopes nurses from the area who left to work as travel nurses will return soon and get back to work at regional hospitals.

One question on the table for hospital leadership is whether or not their hospitals should make the COVID-19 vaccine manditory for employment.

Dr. Lamanteer said hospital-wide vaccine mandates will likely be an “eventuality” for most healthcare facilities.

Both Dr. Weis and Lamanteer said neither hospital has made a decision on the matter, but if they do they will work together to enact the policy at the same time to avoid the risk of losing staff.

“When we do mandate it, probably both hospitals will work together to do it make sure the staff understand you can’t cross the parking lot to escape getting a vaccine,” said Dr. Weis.

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