Haskell Memorial Hospital overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, sees 6 deaths in 6 days

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HASKELL, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – About 6,000 people call Haskell County home.

It’s a rural community and the hospitals, just like the towns that make up the county, are small and isolated.

“We focus mainly on primary care and emergency care,” said Haskell Memorial District Hospital and Stamford Hospital District Chris Strickland.

They are prepared for both types of care, but what they didn’t expect was the amount of people that would be walking in and out of its doors in the last months.

“We’re having an explosion of COVID cases,” said Strickland.

Strickland says out of the 18 rooms, nine are take up by COVID patients.

“Since Thanksgiving, that’s what we’ve been focusing on,” said Strickland.

For a rural hospital, Strickland says the task is overwhelming and almost seems impossible.

“I’ve had nurses at certain points that have said to me that we’re running an ICU hospital and we don’t have any ICU beds, we’re not ICU trained,” said Strickland.

The best and most simple solution would be to transfer those patients to bigger hospitals with more resources, but that’s easier said than done.

“There’s nowhere to transfer them,” said Strickland. “The hospitals in the State of Texas are all full and there’s not an ICU bed in the State of Texas.”

When asked what the hospital does when it is put in this position Strickland said “the best we can.”

The “best” is better than what we’ve seen in the past, Strickland says.

“We’ve been able to take care of a higher level of patient than what we usually do,” said Strickland.

Strickland says he was able to purchase ventilators with help from the CARES Act and the state has sent in an additional 10 nurses.

He says the additional resources will help, but won’t solve the problem.

“Our entire last year we had four deaths all year, so for us to have six deaths in a row six days in a row has been devastating,” said Strickland.

He says the hospital can only do so much and is pleading to the public to help slow the surge for the sake of the small town.

Haskell Memorial and its clinics have vaccinated about 40 of its staff from the 1A list.

They’re hoping to get another shipment in a few days to finish off that first list and move to the 1B list, which are those older residents.

They still don’t know how many vaccines they will be getting.

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