COVID soaring in Ector County

Hospital admissions for those with COVID continue to surge across the U.S. and in Ector County with only about 0.02 percent of those admissions nationwide representing fully vaccinated patients.

Doctors from both Medical Center Health System and Odessa Regional Medical Center, again, detailed during a COVID news conference Monday that the disease is “in your hands.”

Both Dr. Timothy Benton, Ector County’s health authority and co-chief of staff at MCH, and Dr. Rohith Saravanan, regional chief medical officer at ORMC, reminded and warned Odessans that washing hands, wearing masks and getting vaccinated are the most important tools in the fight against COVID.

The numbers confirm that.

MCH CEO Russell Tippin’s daily numbers for MCH on Monday detailed 88 in house. That is up from 50 or 60 last Friday. “It has really changed … I can tell you people are really sick … We are moving them around and opening new departments.”

Of the 88, 27 are on ventilators at MCH. Tippin said the hospital has ordered 40 new ventilators and added that most of the patients at MCH are from Ector County.

“This is an Ector County issue we are dealing with here,” he said.

Of Monday’s count there were 70 unvaccinated and 13 vaccinated. “It’s very easy to tell the difference,” Tippin said. “The vaccinated are tolerating COVID a lot better.”

MCH Chief Nursing Officer Christin Timmons reported 12 employees out with COVID or quarantining. She said most elective surgeries are being postponed starting Tuesday and that staff members are being moved around to help care for the rising COVID numbers in house.

“It is more hands for those who are ill, whether COVID or not.”

State nurses, she said, are expected to help boost staffing numbers by Wednesday. MCH did not get the number of nurses they requested, but Timmons said anything helps at this point with MCH staff exhausted and overwhelmed by COVID numbers.

ORMC CEO Stacey Brown reported 26 in house with eight in ICU and five on vents. She said the unvaccinated patient number is about 96 percent.

Saravanan spoke briefly about some Ector County healthcare providers prescribing unapproved medications for those suffering from COVID and warned that these doctors could face discipline or even lose their medical licenses. He said patients need to stop seeking unapproved treatments and doctors need to prescribe only what is approved.

“Treaters in our community are giving out things that don’t work … Action can be taken against med provider licenses,” he said. “It’s a stark warning to those spreading misinformation not just in our community but in the U.S.”

Benton said the numbers at both hospitals speak to the prevalence of the disease in the community. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” he said of masks and vaccines. “Actually prevention is the best cure … Social distancing and masks and vaccines.”