NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital, along with many other regional hospitals, are utilizing “state nurses” to fill staffing gaps.
The nurses are paid by the Texas Department of Health Services. They are needed to meet the demand of COVID-19 patients.
The intermediate care nurses station at Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital is referred to as a “clean zone,’ isolated from the COVID-19 unit. A temporary wall marked by red flyers separates the two. Red flyers taped to the wall indicate entry into a contaminated area.
It’s there nurses go about their daily routine caring for a census far from normal.
“We are staffed for so many beds, and our census kept going up, and we were not able to keep up with the demand,” said Kristine Sutton, the chief nursing officer at Memorial. “So, we ended up asking for state nurses.”
The request was for 20 nurses. Thirteen nurses paid by the State of Texas arrived.
“So we actually still need more nurses and techs,” Sutton said.
Allison, a state nurse, has worked in California and New York City.
COVID-19 care is the North Carolina resident’s specialty, but state nurses must prepare for any assignment.
“You can give me a different assignment each day, and I’ll keep going, and I can keep running and going and take care of them,” said the nurse. “I can take care of anybody.”
Even with help, many hospitals, at one time or another, have been placed on critical care diversion. Nacogdoches Memorial is on it today.
“And that is just a simple notification to our EMS agencies in the community that if they have a patient that is potentially needing a critical-care bed that we’re at capacity,” explained emergency services director Jackie Laird. “It’s a request. It doesn’t mean that you can’t come to our hospital; it just means bypassing us if appropriate.”
The status is updated every three hours and reported region-wide.
“And so that’s allowed some out-loading of patients at freestanding ERs, Huntsville, Cleveland, Woodville, so outside our area,” Laird said.
Laird said a previously shuttered North Houston hospital has been opened to handle overflow. Nacogdoches Memorial is so far keeping patients at home.