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Austin COVID-19 hospitalizations delay access to other medical care: ‘Stop being inconsiderate’

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Imagine caring for a loved one with chronic illness and not being able to get immediate hospital care for them if their health deteriorates.

That was the reality for Hays County resident Harriet Greenlee, who recently attempted to take her elderly father to an emergency room.

Greenlee said her father’s kidneys are failing and he is also having problems with his lungs.

She tried to take him to St. David’s Hospital in south Austin on Tuesday, where she was told there were zero beds available in the emergency room.

“The ER looked like a mass ward,” Greenlee said. “Patients lined the corridors. My father had to be admitted and there are ZERO beds. None at St David’s, Seton, Baylor Scott and White.”

New statewide numbers show Texas has risen to more than 6,800 COVID hospitalizations. That’s an increase from less than 1,600 a month ago.

“Stop being inconsiderate and take off those rose-colored glasses,” Greenlee said.

Greenlee said she made the trip from Hays County to take care of her father. While in the emergency room, he encountered another complication.

“He had a heart problem…so that forced us to make the decision to move him to another hospital, but they didn’t have beds there, and he made the decision to go to the hospice,” Greenlee said.

According to state data, 10 beds will be available in the 11-county Austin area as of Monday, with COVID patients occupying 21 percent of those beds.

“The Austin-Travis county that is filling up with COVID patients is definitely a byproduct of what’s happening here,” said Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra. “We’re just trying to remind people that this is serious… you’re going to crash our health care system because you don’t want to get vaccinated.”

Greenlee says she has gone to the emergency room with her father five times since December and has had no problems taking care of him so far.

“Just because someone has an underlying condition doesn’t mean they deserve to die,” she said.

As of Monday, Austin-Travis County has reached the threshold to activate Phase 5 Risk-Based Guidance, although health officials have not officially announced the move.

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