Hospitals throughout El Paso, including University Medical Center of El Paso, are working together with the BorderRAC (Border Regional Advisory Council) to take proactive steps to provide a continuum of care for El Paso patients in need of ICU care.
Despite the local health care providers working to expand capacity, the BorderRAC in collaboration with the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council, is coordinating to have the option of airlifting patients requiring critical care to other facilities within Texas.
Officials say this will be a strictly voluntary decision by the patients and arrangements will be made to bring all patients home to El Paso.
“This option is meant to be used on a limited basis, if needed, and in collaboration with families. Up to 20 patients per 24-hour period may be air lifted,” UMC officials shared via a Saturday evening news release.
Additionally, the State is sending 3-4 medical mobile units (fully functional tents with staff/equipment), and BorderRAC is working to get those staged.
UMC will be getting one, possibly two, of those tents. They will be staged on the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso parking lot, located directly behind UMC’s main campus.
Each unit/tent can accommodate approximately between 17-20 patients and will help decompress the emergency department.
Over the last several weeks, local hospitals have increased their bed capacity. However, as those beds are made available, they are filled. Hospitals are reaching a point where they have expanded, within their existing brick and mortar, as much as they can.
According to officials, hospitalizations are increasing very quickly, with 778 hospitalized in the community (194 at UMC). Per BorderRAC, UMC has doubled our hospitalizations over a four-day period.
“UMC has added over 80 beds thus far and UMC is working on using off-site facilities to further increase our capacity. UMC is preparing to utilize a floor at El Paso Children’s Hospital for non-COVID-19 patients (26 beds) along with our UMC Surgical Center West non-COVID-19 patients (13 beds),” UMC officials added.
The state has provided staffing support, in the case of UMC, the facility has received 71 nurses, 15 respiratory therapist, three doctors (one intensivists and two hospitalists) and six nurse practitioners.
“UMC is submitting a request for another 100 nurses through BorderRAC as we expand into newly designated space as well as the UMC Surgical Center West on North Mesa in west El Paso,” officials shared Saturday night.
A request was made by the City to the federal government (DOD/FEMA) to utilize William Beaumont Army Medical Center’s (WBAMC) beds for civilian use.
“UMC has also learned that the request was denied late this week,” UMC officials said. “WBAMC has been very engaged and willing to help, however a decision of that magnitude must be made at a higher level.”