Austin COVID-19 hospitalizations slowing access to other medical care: ‘Stop being inconsiderate’


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Imagine caring for a loved one with chronic illnesses, and not being able to get them immediate hospital care when their health declines.

That was the reality for Hays County resident Harriet Greenlee, who recently tried taking her elderly father to an emergency room.

Greenlee said her father’s kidneys are failing and that he also has issues with his lungs.

She tried taking him to St. David’s Hospital in south Austin on Tuesday, where she said she was told there were zero beds available in its emergency room.

“The ER looked like a mass ward,” Greenlee said. “Patients lined the hallways. My dad needed to be admitted and there are ZERO beds. None at St. David’s, Seton, Baylor Scott and White.”

New numbers show statewide, Texas has climbed to more than 6,800 COVID hospitalizations. That’s up from less than 1,600 just one month ago.

“Stop being inconsiderate and take off the rose-colored glasses,” Greenlee said.

Greenlee said she made the trip from Hays County to get her father care. When in the ER–he ran into another complication.

“He had a heart issue… so that forced us to make the decision to take him to another hospital, but they did not have beds there, and he made the decision to enter hospice,” Greenlee said.

According to state data–as of Monday–there are 10 beds available in the 11-county Austin region, with COVID patients occupying 21 percent of those beds.

“Austin-Travis county getting full with COVID patients is absolutely a by product of what’s happening here,” Hays County Judge, Ruben Becerra said. “We are just trying to remind people that this is serious… you’re going to bog down our healthcare system because you don’t want to get vaccinated.”

Greenlee says she’s made five trips to the ER with her father since December, and hasn’t had trouble accessing care for him, until now.

“Just because someone has an underlying condition, doesn’t mean they deserve to die,” she said.

As of Monday, Austin-Travis County has reached the threshold to trigger Stage 5 risk-based guidelines, although health officials have not officially announced the move.

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