North Texas low on pediatric ICU beds as COVID-19 variants spread

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Provided by Amy Parker

As of Aug. 25, an official update from the DFW Hospital Council stated that the entire North Texas region is facing a shortage of staffed pediatric ICU beds. Renee Richmond, retired nurse, and mother of 3 FISD students, has been directly impacted by the limited bed space in hospitals.

The new COVID-19 variants combined with the unusual spike of common respiratory viruses are stretching healthcare workers to the limit with hospitals across the state reporting a shortage of beds.

Renee Richmond, retired nurse, and mother of three Frisco ISD students, has been directly impacted by the limited bed space in hospitals. 

“About three weeks ago, my son needed to go into the hospital to get an infusion for an autoimmune disease that he has,” Richmond said. “And when they finally got us a bed, it was late at night, so we had to go to the emergency center.” 

Her son is supposed to go back for another infusion, but Richmond says it may not happen because of COVID-19. 

“I mean it is just completely overcrowded. I’m still friends with a couple of the doctors and several of the nurses. And you know, they say that they are just at their wit’s end,” Richmond said. “They don’t have enough nurses to staff the beds, so they are pulling nurses from clinics and doing bonuses for outpatient nurses to come over and do extra shifts. It’s definitely making a big impact on the whole system.”

“North Texas could easily run out of ICU beds very soon,” Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council President Stephen Love said to WFAA. “This Delta variant is a game-changer and unfortunately many people are not taking the precautions needed to slow the virus spread which is very unfortunate.”

Having spent 30 years as a nurse, Richmond empathizes with the overworked healthcare workers.

“I feel bad for them, and honestly, I’m sorry that people are putting their lives at risk,” she said. “They have family members at home that could be at risk, they’re burnt out, they’re quitting, they’re exhausted, they’re working extra, and the more you work and the more tired you get, you put yourself at more risk of getting sick. I think that they are our heroes and that we are lucky to have them.”

Vaccination rates across the nation have started to lag, with Texas at around 47.9% of the population vaccinated.

I think it’s important to think of the big picture and to think about everyone and not just ourselves,”

— former nurse Renee Richmond

“I think it’s important to think of the big picture and to think about everyone and not just ourselves,” Richmond said. “People not getting vaccinated and not wearing masks are what are causing our ERs to see these numbers. I find it appalling really, that people feel that strongly and they can’t see the bigger picture and do what’s best for everyone.” 

According to the CDC, children under the age of 12 are unable to get vaccinated. Richmond shows concern for the children who will not have the choice to get immunized. 

 “People are really putting them at risk,” Richmond said. “I just think it says a lot about us as humans and how we take care of each other. It’s easy to say ‘oh the number is so small’ but when your kid is a part of the number, then it’s everything right? 100% your kid.”