Final COVID Zoom held Tuesday by health officials

Odessa Regional Medical Center’s President and CEO Stacey Brown speaks about the hospital’s fight against COVID-19 during the Odessa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 26th Annual Unity Luncheon in celebration of Cinco de Mayo Wednesday at La Margarita Festival Grounds.

Odessa’s two hospitals working hand in hand rather than as fierce competitors during the COVID 19 crisis, local health officials say, created a higher level of care and elevated medical standards in Odessa.

During a Tuesday Zoom call, Odessa Regional Medical Center Hospital and Medical Center Hospital officials acknowledged that Tuesday’s call would be the last scheduled COVID Zoom barring any new issues.

MCH Director of Public Relations Trevor Tankersley said the Zoom calls during the pandemic were daily and then twice weekly and numbered between 150 to 200. The Zooms were often viewed by thousands of Odessans seeking answers and information on the health crisis.

MCH CEO Russell Tippin praised the partnership that was born during the pandemic between the county hospital and the privately-owned ORMC.

“We have enjoyed our partnership with y’all and have breached new ground in a relationship with each other … all the late night texts and early morning conversations has brought us closer together. Y’all are just like us and  want to take care of community … it’s a testament when you put patients first everything else takes care of itself.”

ORMC CEO Stacey Brown echoed Tippin’s comments on the partnership that has grown between the two hospitals: “We look forward to continuing in the future what we are working on.”

She said as of Tuesday that ORMC had one COVID patient and that during the last month it has been anywhere from 0 to 4 patients at ORMC each day. “It’s very manageable.”

Tippin  said it is “hard to believe this time last year how crazy it was … living hour to hour to figure out what would be next…how to handle..we have come a long way.”

MCH on Tuesday reported seven COVID patients. “Last week we had 14 with only a handful from Ector County,” Tippin said adding that MCH had tested 23,865 for COVID and given out tens of thousands of vaccines.

Both hospitals continue to offer the first and second doses of the vaccines. MCH does the first and ORMC the second. They also are continuing community outreach through shot clinics that they take to club, churches and schools.

Christin Abbott-Timmons, chief nursing Officer at MCH, said during Tuesday’s Zoom press conference that mask changes had started earlier in the day at MCH. Visitation is now open to everyone and she said that while they still encourage hospital visitors to wear a mask that no one will be asked to leave for not wearing one.

“But when visiting a patient in a room they must have a mask on just like our staff will have a mask on when in patient rooms.”

She reminded that children are not allowed on any floor other than the first floor and said staff are not required to wear a mask unless they are taking a patient somewhere or are in close contact such as in a patient room.

ORMC’s visiting policy and mask policy remains unchanged for now, ORMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rohith Saravanan said.

He said the DSHS dashboard for Texas shows 53 percent vaccinated overall and in Ector County that the percentage of those vaccinated over 12 is about 32 percent for getting both shots and about 38 percent for those who have taken just the first dose.
Those in the 65-plus population are at 70 percent vaccinated.

“That’s pretty good numbers overall…encourage friends and family to get vaccines to put this disease completely behind us.”

The health officials all detailed that lessons have been learned during the pandemic including that good healthcare must be mobile.

“We’ve learned that if people are afraid to seek medical treatment we must go to them” Tippin said.

Saravanan said that the partnerships formed during the crisis benefited and will continue to benefit all Odessans. “We have created a higher level of care and that is good for all of us.”

Brown said there is “tremendous value” in talking about community issues together and with local stakeholders including school, city and county officials.