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ETX hospital kicks into overdrive amid surge in patients

Texarkana

MOUNT PLEASANT, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – As the coronavirus rips through East Texas communities at a rapid pace, hospitals are seeing their patient numbers grow even more.

Titus Regional Medical Center CEO Terry Scoggin said his facility is seeing its highest levels of COVID-19 patients since the start of the pandemic. On Friday, the facility was at its capacity with 24 patients. “We’re a rural hospital, we’re independent, we’re small. That’s over one third of our patients are COVID, and that’s very high acuity, very sick patients,” Scoggin said. 

The hospital is experiencing what Scoggin called its third surge, which started right before Thanksgiving. “The problem with this one is, the inability to transfer out,” he said. That’s because other facilities are seeing high volumes of patients, too.

What’s more, Scoggin said, there’s something a little different about this surge. “Patients are more sick today, and we’re seeing that on a daily basis. That’s what’s concerning about it right now.” But Scoggin added that hospital staff are continually finding ways to make it all work. “We implemented some telemed in our ICU as well, just to give that coverage from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m., so some of our doctors could get some sleep and rest.”

The weight of the pandemic comes amid tough times for most rural hospitals. Scoggin said his facility operates on a razor-thin margin. Titus Regional Medical Center, he said, did receive $1.8 million in stimulus money last April. But, Scoggin said, the facility is still projected to lose money. “With the increase of acuity in both December and now January, our estimates, we expect to lose between half a million and three quarters of a million dollars related to this.”

But, Scoggin is optimistic, and said changes made during the pandemic have put the hospital in a good position. Meanwhile, he’s making it a priority to communicate with the community he serves. “We have to live our lives, we have to do things. However, there’s ways to do it. If you feel sick, stay at home … if you have those symptoms, get tested as quick as possible.”

Scoggin said the facility just received another shipment of vaccines, 300 doses, on Monday night. Those doses, he said, are already reserved. You can sign up for the vaccine list by visiting the hospital’s website: http://titusregional.com.

Titus Regional Medical Center plans to host a town hall meeting live on Facebook this Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Scoggin, along with two of the hospital’s doctors will answer questions from the community concerning vaccines. The public is invited to participate.

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