Austin medical professionals plead with public as ICU bed availability runs low

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — There’s an emotional plea from doctors and medics as the 11-county Austin region is running out of ICU beds.

The University of Texas projected that would happen by Sunday. State data shows there are still six beds left, but those on the frontlines are warning that could change at a moment’s notice.

“I can’t even explain to another person who is not in the hospital with us, what it is like to call families of our COVID patients, and listen to their cries,” Anna Vu-Wallace, an internal medicine hospitalist said.

Vu-Wallace said she’s worried about there being no ICU beds available any day now, with it already being so bad.

“[Some] have had to treat patients in the waiting room…it’s like being at war. It’s really like being at war, seeing so much suffering,” Vu-Wallace said.

Vu-Wallace said this is he worst surge in cases they’ve seen since the beginning of the pandemic, noting patients being younger, makes it especially difficult.

“Our team lost a 43-year-old man, and within an hour, his 37-year-old wife passed away from COVID–leaving behind an 11-year-old,” she said, fighting back tears.

Austin EMS is also feeling the pressure of the delta-variant’s contagious path. Staff is prepping more ambulances with fast-sterilizing foggers. And they’re spread thin transporting patients.

“We actually end up putting our patients in the waiting rooms of the ER, until a bed becomes available,” Selena Xie, president of the Austin EMS Association said.

According to Xie, they’re having to spend more time at hospitals, taking away from response times too.

“I know that we are going to be able to manage now, but at some point–we aren’t going to be able to manage,” Xie said.

Vu-Wallace said medical staff is at their wits end.

“Our nurses are overwhelmed, they’re tired,” Vu-Wallace said.

So, she makes a plea.

“I’m begging, I’m really begging for mask mandate, even if it’s just for a short period of time, to give us some relief.”

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