WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Starr County Memorial Hospital implements new guidelines for coronavirus response, forming an ethics committee to decide which patients receive treatment.
- The upsurge in coronavirus depleted available medical supplies pushing the local hospital to decide which patients are “sent home to die”.
- Starr County, with a 64,000-total estimated population, has just one hospital.
The upsurge in coronavirus cases pushed a hospital to review patients’ medical records and determine which patients should get medical services, as resources run out. Under these hospital regulations, patients with severe cases are sent “home to die by their loved ones,” public officials said.
The Starr County Memorial Hospital in Rio Grande City, Texas implements new guidelines for coronavirus response, because of the limited medical supplies available. The hospital formed ethics committees to decide which patients will receive treatments based on their chances of survival.
“Unfortunately, Starr County Memorial Hospital has limited resources and our doctors are going to have to decide who receives treatment, and who is sent home to die by their loved ones,” Judge Eloy Vera said. “This is what we did not want our community to experience.”
1,769 out of 64,000-total population of the county tested positive for the coronavirus on July 24, with 68 new cases recorded on that day. Starr County Memorial is the only hospital in the area.
“The situation is desperate,” Dr. Jose Vasquez, the county’s health authority and part of the health board that governs the hospital, said in a press conference, “We cannot continue functioning in the Starr County Memorial Hospital nor in our county in the way that things are going. The numbers are staggering.”
This upsurge in coronavirus cases started after the state reopened local businesses on Memorial Day. Today, about 50 percent of patients who entered the hospital’s emergency room tested positive for COVID-19, public health officials reported.
On Friday, the local government restructured public health guidelines, patterned after recommended measures. Starr County announced stay-at-home order for residents, instituted curfews, and policies on wearing masks in public spaces.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requested assistance from the national government. The U.S. Navy is scheduled to intervene and provide additional medical help to overwhelmed hospitals. However, this announcement does not affect the committee instituted to handle the disease outbreak in the county. Starr County insisted that the committee is essential for coronavirus response.
“For all of those patients that most certainly do not have any hope of improving, they are going to be better taken care of within their own family in the love of their own home rather than thousands of miles away dying alone in a hospital room,” Vasquez said.