Rural hospitals face new obstacles as coronavirus continues to spread


HASKELL, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – With coronavirus cases continuing to climb around the country, rural hospitals are starting to feel the impact of the pandemic.

“If this thing continues on into the fall and we get into flu season with it, we’re gonna have some real issues across the state of Texas,” said Haskell Memorial Hospital CEO Chris Strickland.

According to Strickland, the increasing prices and a rise in demand for personal protective gear are some of the many obstacles facing rural hospitals during the pandemic.

“Something that used to cost, you know, $5 is now like $15-$20, and your minimum orders have went up too. So whenever you used to be able to by a minimum order of five of something, now you’re having to buy 50,” said Strickland.

Transferring patients to other hospitals is a crucial part making sure someone in critical condition gets the best care possible. Strickland says the pandemic is making it more difficult for hospitals to move patients.

“It typically goes from the rural hospitals to the city center urban hospitals, but now since the urban hospitals are full and the larger systems are full, it’s starting to come back out to the rural hospitals filling their beds up,” said Strickland.

Limited staffing has placed even more stress on the medical professionals who are continuously being exposed to the virus.

“A lot of hospitals, they either have staff that are positive with COVID or have been exposed to the point where they have to quarantine,” said Strickland.

Strickland says hitting max capacity isn’t an issue for Haskell Memorial Hospital at the moment, but it could become a major problem the longer this virus hangs around.

“Since all the hospitals are filled with COVID patients, it doesn’t mean that people stop having heart attacks. It doesn’t mean that people stop having strokes. It doesn’t mean people stop having diabetes. We still have to care for these other patients,” said Strickland.

Strickland says most rural hospitals have anywhere from 25 to 100 beds, and as the virus continues to spread it will not take long for Haskell Memorial Hospital to fill up.

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