HOUSTON – Rural healthcare systems are growing concerned that a coronavirus surge is around the corner.
At Liberty Dayton Regional Medical Center, the staff said the duty to protect its patients is creating an unavoidable worry. The hospital, located northeast of Houston, is asking for donations of personal protection equipment.
"Things such as masks and gowns and face shields," said Liberty Dayton CEO Matt Thornton. "The same things that all the other healthcare facilities are having a hard time getting."
Thorton said he is thinking of his medical team.
"Our frontline staff is a little bit antsy, anxious and nervous," he said.
Liberty Dayton said they have enough PPE to last about a week. They said they don't want to wait for a potential surge to find out that they cannot adequately protect their team.
"There is potential that we could run out before we get our supply chain reinstated," Thornton said.
With a potential surge, they plan to be pro-active within reason.
Thornton said he does not want to take supplies from those who are in immediate need. However, he said he wants to ensure his hospital has access to the proper tools. Any extra supplies will be distributed to first responders who need it in the area as well.
As coronavirus testing ramps up across Houston, Thornton said the entire county has only been able to test a couple of hundred patients. He said the system is getting help from the state, but it is not enough or fast enough.
"It's a little bit different because we're situated in a more rural area," he said. "Even our routine providers are prioritizing the bigger cities."
Fighting to the state's distributed resources, Thornton said the team is looking for other ways to be prepared.
Liberty Dayton is launching a volunteer registry, which will allow medical professionals who may be furloughed or retired to step in and assist.
"I thought it would be important for us to reach out ahead of time for those who want to volunteer, and we can go ahead and start a registry," Thornton said. "A lot of people may have been furloughed. It may be an opportunity for them, who may live locally and drive to the Houston area for different surgery centers or doctors' offices who may not be seeing patients right now."
The ultimate goal – staying ahead of the curve.
"[We want] the best for our community, and [we're] trying to stay a couple of steps ahead," Thornton said.
For those looking to donate or volunteer, Thornton said people can call the hospital directly at (936) 336-9175 or email JSkinner@LibertyDaytonRMC.com.