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‘Close to reaching capacity’: UMC plans for patient overflow as El Paso virus cases surge

UMC ambulance
The ambulance entrance at University Medical Center.

EL PASO, Texas -- University Medical Center, which is handling the majority of Covid-19 hospitalizations in El Paso, has disclosed that it is now making plans to deal with an overflow of patients, mainly those seeking elective surgeries, as virus cases surge.

“I did not know we were that close to reaching capacity," reacted El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego as UMC's top official informed him of the situation on Monday.

The capacity UMC refers to is the pre-designated 15% of beds that hospitals are required to set aside for Covid-19 patients, UMC spokesman Ryan Mielke later clarified.

The hospital has a floor designated to treating Covid-19 patients, but CEO Jacob Citron said UMC is approaching capacity following a surge that occurred after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott allowed some businesses to begin reopening.

And Citron believes El Paso has not yet seen the impact from Mother's Day weekend, which officials predict could result in another surge in about a week because warnings to avoid mass gatherings weren't heeded by some.

"When Gov. Abbott opened up the retail (stores) for up to 25%, we did notice a surge after that starting around May first. We expect that we will see something similar (soon) from Mother's Day," Citron explained.

He also expressed concern as Abbott moves to further reopen the economy, although the governor has pushed back El Paso's timetable by a week from the rest of the state.

"We’re cautious as the state opens up more, there is a risk we’re going to see an increase," Citron indicated.

To make room for anticipated additional virus patients, UMC is working to transfer non-Covid-19 patients to an overflow facility, the Complete Care Community Hospital at 4642 North Mesa in west El Paso.

Cintron said that facility has 18 patient beds and six treatment rooms and has just been approved to take patients. He added that UMC is also coordinating other plans to prepare for further increases in the caseload.

"We have more than enough capacity for more patients, COVID-19 and non-COVID-19," Mielke told ABC-7.

The El Paso health department has indicated there were 78 virus patients hospitalized as of Monday evening. While it's unclear what the capacity is at the other major El Paso hospitals, UMC noted it has taken most of those patients.

Citron did note one area for possible optimism so far during the pandemic.

"What has been helpful, that despite the people testing positive, very few are on ventilators. We have had a low ventilator use and mortality increases once you’re on a ventilator," he said.

Coronavirus / Coronavirus Video / El Paso / News / Top Stories / Video

Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.



    1. Talk about shitting on the legal citizens! Did you see the cops out today ticketing people like it went out of style!!!!! Projected opening day was May 18, 2020. Thanks Chief Allen! People are struggling and you sent out your troops full force for that free money. Imagine a patient not taking their pills as they are scheduled: ticket. Didn’t show up for medical appointment: ticket. Didn’t follow a renal diet: ticket. And the patient pays for your services. That injustice only exists on one sector. That’s right . Madmike. Nadodave. Etc.

      1. Jamesben stfu again please. Without immigrants you’d be living out in the open. You’d be eating crackers. They have a very important role in the US whether you like it or not. You are an inept person not capable of building a stick figure. They are important and I don’t mind paying taxes. And if we can get them an expedited path to citizenship EVEN BETTER. They will pay taxes and do the essential jobs. Think that next time you feed yourself. Your people are too busy going to the Jerry springer show. We work.

    2. Yes truth of the matter! A lot…..A Lot of illegals are UMC. The government finds them. How? Thru taxation. Have you missed a meal? Have u not been able to pay your mortgage and car? Responsible co-habitation is not necessarily a bad thing. Think next time you stuff yourself with veggies for example. Think next time you enter your home. Who built it? Think next time you eat a piece of meat. Who processed it? Don’t blab your mouth uncontrollably and deny these facts. Don’t be an idiot.

  1. Why is UMC in Lubbock 3 times the size of our UMC. Both are teaching facilities for Texas Tech. Both are county hospitals. We should have at least a 1,000 bed full blown medical facility. How did El Paso get screwed?

    1. El Paso screws itself. TTU isn’t responsible for the size of the hospitals. That’s a county issue and it’s current situation is the result of “Barney Rubble Feet” Escobar’s poor leadership as County Judge. Even if it was TTU’s responsibility, where is the TTU main campus located? Where is the TTU Administration located? Lubbock. It’s not rocket science. Guns up!

      1. original maga NO! you screw yourself and your siblings. ‘through your post we develop perceptions. And we DONT CARE AND LIKE YOU AND YOUR PEOPLE.


  2. According to ICE, there are 7 non citizens in area hospitals and 4 people with dual citizenship. Immihrants form the very backbone of this nation and disparaging them is anti American.

    1. Hey dolt you do know that 65% of American are against illegal immigration. That is a fact you can take to the bank. BTW – You sound like a dumb white guy.

  3. Throw the tax paying gringos out on the Street!
    This Is Mexican Country!
    Mail In Your Vote For Beto and Beronica!
    Viva Mexico, Viva Lone Star, Viva!

  4. KVIA reports doom and gloom in it’s leftist narrative as usual. The other local media outlets report: “Though COVID-19 floors are getting fuller, there’s still plenty of hospital space for patients, according to University Medical Center.”

    1. fero2a a dilapidated mummy with time to buy. LOL. good riddance oldtimer. your time is around the corner. A celebration when your white racist ass is gone.

  5. the 5 displaced white fat gringos, fero, madmike, K1, jamesben, aulljason, etc., who are the prime example of “non manlike behavior” are insignificant. Lazy white men, wives work, constantly seeking increased bogus disability percentages, large gaping mouths and other orifices since they belong to the race most convicted of pedophilia, think they run the country. LOL. POOR SOULS. stfu and follow instructions.

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