ODESSA, Texas (Nexstar) — Medical Center Hospital released a statement Thursday addressing a photo being shared on social media of a patient wearing a plastic drape over her head.
The photo was first shared on Facebook by Odessa’s Accountability Project. That post has since been shared more than a thousand times. According to the social media post and to MCH, the patient came in for treatment for COVID-19 and was wearing a plastic drape over her head and upper torso during transport throughout the hospital.
MCH said it has spoken with the mother of the patient regarding her care, including the use of the drape.
“We were pleased to have the mother reach out to us to address the situation,” said Russell Tippin, MCH CEO. “Our top priority will always be the safety and care of our patients. We are always willing to listen to our patient’s experiences to better communicate with them to make sure they are comfortable.”
MCH said, per hospital MCH policy and CDC guidelines, a patient must always wear a mask within the hospital. In certain circumstances, the use of a clear, plastic drape or covering for COVID patients during transport is used to prevent the virus from airborne spread to staff and other patients, especially in tight areas such as hallways and elevators.
MCH said those circumstances include if the patient refuses to wear a mask or keep it on, is unable to tolerate a mask or has an aerosol-generating procedure. According to the hospital, a draped patient is never left unattended and is already on some form of oxygen or breathing assistance. MCH said as with any other medical procedure, the patient or guardian has the right to refuse the form of protection.
Now that the photo has gone viral, MCH said the hospital and staff have received threatening phone calls, including threats on their lives, their family’s lives and even threats of bombing the hospital. The Ector County Hospital District Police Department is investigating these threats, and the FBI has been contacted.
“Rest assured, we take all of these threats seriously and are taking appropriate action,” Tippin said. “Under no circumstances will MCH tolerate such threats to staff members, their families or anyone associated with the health system. Our staff have been true heroes for the past 19 months in battling this pandemic and do not deserve the vicious threats spewed by these hateful individuals.”