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Houston Methodist Hospital System fights coronavirus pandemic head-on

HOUSTON – The Houston Methodist Hospital System is at 72% occupancy, according to a spokesperson.

The system is caring for 116 patients who have tested positive for coronavirus. More than 100 patients have been discharged from Houston Methodist and recovered from coronavirus as Thursday.

Coronavirus patients have been doubling every three to four days at Houston Methodist, according to medical director Dr. Faisal Masud. He said the hospital is seeing a surge in coronavirus patients, specifically those who require intensive care.

Masud said the hospital could accommodate 450 ICU patients, and there is currently no shortage of ventilators. However, all of that can change.

"If the ICUs go into thousands, I don't think there is any place in the world prepared for that. We don't want to be there; we want to control it," he said.

Houston Methodist is hoping to control the spread with innovative approaches.

"We are using our virtual ICU to help manage. We are monitoring from the outside so that the physician and the nurses don't have to go back and forth," Dr. Masud said. "We have launched a new protocol. We have even launched devices to put breathing tubes in [the patients], so healthcare workers aren't exposed."

Dr. Masud said his team is preparing for a marathon, not a sprint. That is why they also created dedicated COVID-19 critical care teams.

"By deploying these teams, for the dedicated COVID critical care ICU, we're letting them have a lot of down time, so they're not exhausted," Dr. Masud said. "It is a very intense ward."

The hospital can be overrun with new patients if residents don't adhere to the social distancing orders.

"This is not a vacation," Dr. Masud said. "We are fighting day and night for you all. You want us to help you and keep fighting for you… if you help us and support us, we can get there."

Another challenge for healthcare workers is overcoming what Dr. Masud called "infodemic."

“You get bombarded, and you have to filter out what is real,” he said. “Take deep breaths and do what is best for the patient.”