Mineral Wells Area News

State Sending Much Needed Staffing Help to PPGH, CEO Requesting Citizens Get Vaccinated

State Sending Much Needed Staffing Help to PPGH, CEO Requesting Citizens Get Vaccinated
August 25
18:23 2021

By: Amy Sabbatini-Bearden

“The hospital is full. Everyday. There hasn’t been a day we haven’t been full. We may have a bed open right now, but it will be taken in a matter of hours. ICU is completely full. Long, long holds in the emergency department, just waiting on beds unfortunately,” Palo Pinto General CEO Ross Korkmas told hospital board members.

PPGH continues to deal with Covid-19 as infections spread throughout the county. Staff and equipment shortages for the hospital prompted county officials to reach out to the state for help. Korkmas was elated to tell board members at their August monthly meeting that the state had been very receptive to their needs.

“We have been waiting on some staff from the state of Texas and tonight I can tell you that tomorrow they are sending two ICU nurses, two med-surge nurses and two respiratory therapists,” he said.

The state already sent ventilators but it was the staff that was crucial according to Korkmas. “We have received a number of pieces of equipment from them. They’ve been very responsive and helpful but staffing is the biggest one we’ve been waiting on.”

The help however, is likely not enough and Korkmas says the hospital is still looking at agency travel staff. “Its needed. The volume that we are seeing, with the amount of staff we have is just not sustainable long term.”

Staff shortages are not the only issue challenging the hospital. Each day the covid unit is growing and the next step for the hospital operations to meet the immediate demands is to expand into part of the day surgery areas and turn it into intermediate care or an ICU for non-covid patients, said the CEO.

“The good news is we are able to be flexible and can go larger but we can’t do that without addition help.”

Administration is also looking at other solutions to relieve strain on the hospital. The hospital’s urgent care clinic will soon be rolling out curbside care for covid patients. Hospital staff found there is a gap in care for patients who don’t have a primary care physician set up after they test positive for covid.

Korkmas told board members, “If I’m one of your patients, and you’ve seen me for years, you know everything about me, you may feel comfortable calling in these meds, those meds, whatever I need to do. But we have patients that don’t have a PCP that have tested positive, and we need to get them in to see somebody. And we don’t necessarily want them going through the entire professional health building, being Covid positive.”

Board member and Director of Vocational Nursing for Weatherford College, Lori Baker-Boyd, said she liked the idea of the drive-through clinic. “I think that sounds fantastic. Honestly, I think that that’s a good way to not only recapture some people who need medical care in general, but you know, to get them back because a lot of people out there aren’t admitted to the hospital, but they’re pretty sick at home. And they don’t really know what to do. I think it’s a great idea.”

The hospital is also offering monoclonal antibody infusions and says they are seeing great results with that treatment so far, but according to Korkmas, the best thing people can do to prevent severe illness is to get the vaccine. The FDA awarded full approval of the vaccine earlier this week and PPGH has seen an uptick in vaccinations. He drove home the message when asked by the hospital’s attorney, Rhett Warren, what the community could do to help the hospital?

“I’ll start with vaccinations. The number that we have seen, last few weeks is what we looked at, and of our COVID patients that were in the hospital, 86% of them were not vaccinated. So that’s a substantial number. And I would say what I’ve seen across other hospitals, the State of the Nation is between 85 and 90% of the COVID patients at a hospital are unvaccinated. We have had a couple patients in our hospital that were vaccinated and got Covid again, and ended up in the hospital, but guess where they are now? They are home now. So your chances of survival go up significantly if you do contract COVID after you’ve been vaccinated,” said Korkmas.

 When asked if he thought the situation would improve anytime soon, he said he expects the peak of this surge won’t happen until mid-September and warned we still have a ways to go. Last year we were doing a better job of masking and socially distancing, but now everyone has relaxed those precautions, he said. “We want it be over but it’s not. And when you need to be transported to a higher level of care hospital, even if you don’t have Covid, that’s when it’s going to be really hard on you.”

PPGH has extended its vaccine hours to accommodate more patients seeking a vaccine. COVID-19 vaccinations and vaccine boosters can be found at these locations & times. No appointment is needed:

PHC Building

202 SW 25th Ave. conference room

Monday – 8 am-12 pm

Wednesday – 3 pm-7 pm

Friday – 10 am-2 pm

If these hours do not work for you, you can get your shot at Walgreens or CVS.

*Who Needs an Additional COVID-19 Booster Now?*

The CDC is recommending that moderately to severely immunocompromised people receive an additional dose. This includes people who have:

• Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood

• Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system

• Received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system

• Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)

• Advanced or untreated HIV infection

• Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response