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‘It’s apocalyptic’: El Paso cardiologist fears non-Covid patients will die due to hospital overflow

KVIA file
The emergency entrance at Del Sol Medical Center.

EL PASO, Texas-- Hospital capacity has a prominent El Paso cardiologist fearing for his patients.

"We are canceling every single elective procedure but as you understand, cardiac procedures most of the time are not elective if you're having chest pains. If you're having fainting spells because your heart is not performing well, you need those procedures performed," said Dr. Juan Taveras, a cardiologist with Las Palmas Del Sol Medical Center.

As ABC-7 has reported, hospitalizations are up 300% in less than a month's time. El Paso hospitals are at full capacity, and providing care to non-Covid patients has become increasingly challenging.

"To me this is apocalyptic. There is no other way of describing it," said Taveras.

Some area hospitals have already made plans to voluntarily air-lift non-Covid patients in the intensive care unit to other Texas cities. While those patients will be receiving the care they need, Taveras said he is concerned about not being able to treat his patients.

"This is not only a concern from a physician who has a relationship with a patient for the last 20 to 25 years, it's also a concern for the family members that are not able to travel to San Antonio, Houston or Austin," Taveras said.

University Medical Center's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joel Hedryx offered this assessment of the capacity crisis on Monday afternoon.

"We realized that this is the unexpected, this is something that we've not had to do before, we're having to house the patients here for a day or two until they are able to go home," Hedryx said.

Ultimately, Taveras fears this capacity issue will lead ambulance bays to be backlogged, forcing patients to wait in line for critical care.

"This is a disaster. People are going to start dying. As a matter a fact, they started dying already," said Taveras. "But not because they have Covid, but because Covid has impaired the ability to deliver care. That's what is happening right now," Taveras concluded.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

JC Navarrete

El Paso native JC Navarrete co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend newscasts and reports during the week.


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