December 8, 2021 (Hereford, TX) – Area hospitals, including Hereford Regional Medical Center, are experiencing extremely high patient volumes. Over the last 14 days, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Deaf Smith County have increased 57 percent.

Hospitals and clinics routinely manage fluctuations in patient volume, navigating upticks around cold and flu season, for example. Due to the ongoing pandemic strains, however, management of increased need is more challenging.

The medical/surgical unit at HRMC is almost at capacity. Patients are presenting with COVID-19 as well as flu and other serious medical conditions in the emergency department and requiring hospitalization.

“Patients needing specialized care for heart or kidney needs, for example, should be transferred to larger urban hospitals that have the appropriate specialists, but our ability to transfer those patients is limited right now because all hospitals are filling up,” said Jeff Barnhart, CEO of Deaf Smith County Hospital District. “If there’s no free bed at hospitals in Amarillo or Lubbock for our very sick patients, we have to look for space at hospitals even farther away, or we can’t transfer them at all.”

This latest surge comes at a time when hospitals are experiencing staffing shortages and national supply chain issues with backorders for drugs and medical supplies.

“I strongly encourage anyone who is still unvaccinated against either the flu or COVID-19 to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Barnhart. “And if you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, please get a booster shot. The science is clear that these vaccines are safe, and they are effective.”

Individuals not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 constitute 100 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations at HRMC. Just under 40 percent of Deaf Smith County residents are fully vaccinated.

“If you are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, please strongly consider reducing your risk in other ways, like wearing a mask and avoiding indoor events and nonessential travel,” added Barnhart.