A Killeen hospital is experiencing a “stress on inpatient bed availability” as Bell County’s COVID-19 cases “surge,” officials said Thursday.
Kevin Roberts, CEO of AdventHealth-Central Texas, said the number of patients with COVID-19 has gone up, “putting stress on the hospital.”
Hospital officials stopped short of saying there was a shortage of beds at the hospital, and refused to say how many beds were available Thursday. They did say AdventHealth is still able to serve the area for medical reasons.
Roberts said releasing the number of beds available is “not helpful” to the public because the number of available beds is constantly changing.
Roberts encouraged local residents to get a COVID vaccine, and said the influx of COVID patients had made for a difficult situation. He would not say how many coronavirus patients the hospital has or how many ICU beds are available. He said the hospital does keep track of the number of beds it has available.
“This is not making it easy. This is making it harder,” he said.
“AdventHealth-Central Texas and AdventHealth Rollins Brook have seen an increase in COVID-19 cases at our hospitals, consistent with the recent surges throughout our community and region,”AdventHealth-Central Texas spokeswoman Mariana Rodriguez said in an email to the Herald Thursday. “Because of this, combined with the predictable demand for hospital beds, there is community-wide stress on inpatient bed availability, not limited to AdventHealth facilities.”
When asked, Rodriguez and Roberts would not provide a specific number of beds available in Killeen.
Rodriguez said the company’s hospital in Lampasas “still has some capacity, but that is limited.”
When asked about the COVID-19 spike, representatives from Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Temple and Seton Medical Center Harker Heights said they would provide updates on the hospitals’ bed availability Thursday. But as of deadline Thursday, neither hospital had responded with more information.
“AdventHealth remains vigilant and in constant contact with the CDC to monitor COVID-19 trends and recommendations to ensure the safety of our patients, staff and community,” Rodriguez said.
Krystal Reilly said she was at AdventHealth-Central Texas on Wednesday evening and witnessed the bed shortage herself from the waiting room.
“They had ambulances transporting people to other hospitals the entire 8 hours I was there (in the waiting area),” Reilly said on the Herald’s Facebook page. “Imagine being brought into the ER barely able to walk or talk with chest pain and the hospital says there’s worse patients ahead of you? No beds? This was happening.”
Three new coronavirus deaths were reported by the Bell County Health District Wednesday evening, following a recent spike in cases.
The district’s online dashboard showed the county has 469 deaths, as of Thursday, along with 360 active cases of the virus. This includes 141 newly reported active cases since the health district once again started updating its dashboard last week.
The county reported 219 active cases of the virus last Friday.
The incidence rate has also risen to 99.2 cases per 100,000 people — much higher than the rate of 60.3 cases per 100,000 reported last week.
The AdventHealth-Central Texas spokeswoman stressed the importance of preventative COVID-19 measures.
“We cannot emphasize enough the importance of vaccinations, which is the ONLY reliable therapy to prevent infection if you come into contact with the virus,” Rodriguez said. “Masking also is important, particularly in our unvaccinated population, since it can limit exposure.”
Rodriguez offered additional information on how residents can get vaccinated.
“This recent surge is evidence that Bell County has an opportunity to improve in both of these areas,” she said. “Covid-19 vaccines are widely available throughout the community. The Texas Department of State Health Services website provides an online registration option, or you can call 833-832-7067 for a referral to a local vaccine provider. Additionally, vaccinations are offered at AdventHealth Family Medicine Rural Health Clinic at Lampasas, or you may call or visit the website of any local retail pharmacy for vaccine availability.”
Herald staff writer Jacob Brooks and Shane Monaco with FME News Service contributed to this report.