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As El Paso virus hospitalizations rise, city grapples with medical staffing issues

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KVIA
Medical equipment sits inside the emergency room area at Del Sol Medical Center,

EL PASO, Texas -- Hospitalizations in El Paso due to coronavirus may have decreased Friday from 271 to 268, however the number of patients in the ICU continued to increase - jumping to 102.

These sobering numbers are why the City and County of El Paso say they are working closely to help area hospitals keep their staff get over burdened.

“We still have plenty of bed capacity the focus right now is working with the state to try to augment staffing for the hospitals,” El Paso's Office of Emergency Management coordinator Jorge Rodriguez said.

While hospital beds are one thing, specialized staff is another. As a result, health officials said they are working closely with each hospital to access what each one needs going forward.

“Every hospital has their own plan, but as mentioned before we know that the staffing issue might be challenging to the hospitals. But each hospital has done everything possible to address those challenges,” City/County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza said.

Officials at El Paso area medical facilities acknowledged that the rate of hospitalizations is concerning to say the least. If capacity issues do arise, the city indicated it is prepared to work with the state to supplement staff with help from out of town.

A shortage in nurses is nothing new, with many registered nurses in the state of Texas at retirement age and leaving the profession. The outbreak of Covid-19 has certainly not helped that situation.

“What they are experiencing is having to take nurses off the regular units and sometimes move them to the other units. And you have the struggle of taking care of the Covid-19 patients, plus the other patients that are coming in," explained Dr. Stephanie Woods, the dean of the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing at Texas Tech Health Science Center El Paso.

JC Navarrete

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

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