Hendrick chief of staff addresses COVID issues

Steve Nash / Brownwood Bulletin
Dr. Stephen Lowry, chief of staff at Hendrick Medical Center, talks in a video about COVID's impact on hospital services.

Dr. Stephen Lowry, chief of staff at Hendrick Medical Center, spoke on a video about how COVID has impacted the medical center's services as COVID hospitalizations have exceeded 15 percent.

The Brownwood hospital — formerly Brownwood Regional Medical Center — is now part of the Hendrick family.

Lowry said on the video:

As we’ve reached seven days of being at the 15 percent mark, a lot of people have asked me what that means with respect to the governor’s order with elective surgeries and the impact on our medical community. The week following Thanksgiving we did ramp down our elective procedures for a number of reasons. Basically capacity and staffing issues required us to regroup and start implementing some of the plans we’ve had in place for a long time now. As we saw where we were going to settle, we were able to start ramping back up on those elective procedures, not to the fullest extent like we had hoped but open back up significantly where we are doing elective surgeries at this point. 

Things that have remained limited are the procedures that require an admission either to an ICU bed or to a telemetry bed that requires a higher level of care after the procedure. Those things are still severely limited due to the burden of COVID-19 being on our system. With the governor’s order now being in place for our community due to the seven days at 15 percent, the impact that has on our hospital is determined by our ability to continue to provide for COVID patients. The plans that we have in place have allowed us to draw resources — ventilators, staff, some of the state resources that have been provided, which has allowed us to expand our capacity for the COVID patients and yet at the same time maintain a supply of beds for the elective procedures.

Every day we have a committee of folks, different groups that look at our capacity, the trends from hour to hour literally within the hospital and the schedule for the next day, the projected schedule for procedures for patients that are anticipated to be coming in for elective things. Those are reviewed throughout the day and a determination is made on whether or not we can proceed on those things. What is considered an elective procedure would be anything that is not immediately necessary. Immediately necessary would be or instance a trauma or something that’s an immediate risk to life or limb without preceding.

Things that I would consider elective would include anything from a total joint replacement, a hernia repair, something that at the moment might not be immediately life threatening to someone with stable coronary artery disease, blockage that needs bypass surgery but would require an ICU stay afterwards. Those things don’t sound elective but they’re not exactly emergent. When I say elective, when someone is stable and can be put off, at this point we’re having to postpone or put off those patients that need the ICU bed. We’re in a situation now where certain patients might have to be transferred to another facility of we can find another facility that would accept those patients, because a lot of us are in the same boats with our critical care beds.