Houston, TX

Houston Hospitals Overrun! Baby With COVID Turned Away

Ash Jurberg

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COVID-19 cases in Houston continue to rise, and hospitals are failing to keep up. Today, this was sadly illustrated when an 11-month-old girl suffering severe COVID-19 symptoms was turned away from Lyndon B Johnson Hospital in Houston.

There were no other pediatric beds available in any other Houston Hospital, and so the poor infant was flown to a hospital in Temple over 150 miles away.

"We are back beyond our pre-pandemic volumes at LBJ,” hospital administrator Patricia Darnauer

The surge in COVID cases is overrunning hospitals across Houston. Harris Health admitted 336 Covid-19 patients on Thursday. Across Texas, there were 17,534 new cases reported on Thursday, and there are fears that things will get even worse.

Harris Health includes 18 community health centers, five same-day clinics, five school-based clinics, three multi-specialty clinic locations, a dental center and dialysis center, mobile health units, and two full-service hospitals.  According to Harris Health spokeswoman, Amanda Callaway at least half of the ICU patients have the virus. "Couple that with normal emergency needs, and it's overwhelming the system," she said.

There is a clear trend in those requiring hospitalization- up to 95% of them are unvaccinated. For example, of the 9000 deaths from COVID-19 in Texas since February, 99.5% were unvaccinated.

As vaccination rates in Texas lag behind the rest of the country, Texas health officials are also pleading with Texans to come forward and get vaccinated.

The frustrating part for us is that so many people here are not getting the vaccine. We want people to give a damn about themselves and their loved ones. We want people to grow up and think like adults.”  Faisal N. Masud, the medical director of critical care at Houston Methodist

Fortunately, the baby, later identified as Ava Amira Rivera, is now doing well. Ava no longer requires a breathing machine and is resting with her mom.

"Like us, a lot of the children's hospitals are at or near capacity. That's where we are a lot of days right now. We, fortunately, once they reached out to us, although we're a long way away, were able to help her. With the Delta variant we certainly are seeing just more infectivity across the population that includes kids, that includes infants as well," Dr. Dominic Lucia, a pediatric emergency physician and chief medical officer at Baylor Scott & White McLane Children's Medical Center -- Temple

Yesterday Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo raised the county's COVID threat level from orange "significant" to red "severe."

Despite the alarming increase in COVID cases and the strain on the Houston hospital system, Governor Abbott, at this stage, seems reluctant to reintroduce a mask mandate or restrictions.

Everyone has had more than a year to master all of the same strategies that they can choose of what’s best for them and their family members. We’re past the time of government mandates. We’re into the time for personal responsibility.” Texas Governor Greg Abbott

Readers, what do you think? Will the story of an 11-month-old baby being turned away from a Houston hospital give Abbott food for thought? Will a mask mandate or new restrictions be required to try and ease the burden on Houston hospitals. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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