August 12, 2021 (Hereford, TX) – The ability to transfer seriously ill and injured patients to larger hospitals in other parts of the state is limited because of the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

“This is not a great time to be experiencing chest pains or appendicitis or get in a serious accident,” said Jeff Barnhart, CEO, Deaf Smith County Hospital District. “Our ability to transfer our sickest and most urgent patients to our partner hospitals in bigger cities is seriously compromised right now. They simply do not have the bed or staff capacity to take our patients.”

As of Aug. 10, there are only 10 intensive care beds available in Trauma Service A, the region including Hereford and Amarillo. Statewide, there are fewer than 370 available ICU beds.

“We had to transfer a patient to a facility in Albuquerque this week because no hospital closer by in Texas could take her,” said Barnhart. “Having to rely on an out-of-state hospital nearly 300 miles away is far from ideal not just for the patient’s convenience but potentially for the patient’s outcomes as well.”

Statewide, individuals not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 constitute 95 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

“This is an aggressive surge, and sadly, much of it could have been prevented if more people had taken advantage of the vaccine availability,” said Barnhart. “I strongly encourage anyone who is still unvaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The science is clear that these vaccines are safe, and they are effective.”

Just under 30 percent of Deaf Smith County residents are fully vaccinated.

Vaccine appointments at Hereford Health Clinic are available by calling 806-364-7512.