Texas hospital isn't doing enough to save COVID-19 patients, nurse claims

A travel nurse who worked at El Paso, Texas-based University Medical Center claims the hospital isn't doing enough to help COVID-19 patients, reports KFOX-TV.

Lawanna Rivers, RN, claims UMC kept all the sickest patients in a "COVID-pit," according to a Facebook video posted Nov. 7.

"This was my fifth COVID-assignment," Ms. Rivers said while crying in the video. "I was told anybody who goes in that pit, they know that they're only coming out in a body bag."

To avoid COVID-19 exposure, some physicians wouldn't go into the COVID-pits, Ms. Rivers told KFOX-TV. The nurse also claimed other nurses refused to perform CPR longer than six minutes to limit exposure. Ms. Rivers left the assignment two weeks early.

"I have never experienced, and have no words for, what I just experienced in El Paso, Texas," Ms. Rivers told KFOX-TV. "If those doctors there would aggressively treat those patients from the beginning, a lot more would make it."

"After watching the video, while we cannot fully verify the events expressed, we empathize and sympathize with the difficult, physical and emotional toll that this pandemic takes on thousands of healthcare workers here and throughout our country," Ryan Mielke, UMC director of public affairs, told KFOX-TV. "This particular travel nurse was at UMC briefly to help El Paso confront the surge of COVID-19 patients." 

As of Nov. 16, 208 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized at UMC, up from about 30 in late September, Mr. Mielke told Becker's. UMC's capacity has expanded due to a partnership with the El Paso Children's Hospital, and the hospital has both state and military support, according to Mr. Mielke.

"We have robust programs to support our team, especially when it comes to counseling services, many of which can be accessed immediately, 24/7," Mr. Mielke said, including numbers for a local crisis helpline number and virtual support groups. "Lastly, we have an employee assistance program for counseling that offers employees eight free counseling sessions to help them cope with any crisis."

More articles on patient safety and outcomes:
Physical, mental and financial challenges common for COVID-19 survivors, study finds
Hospital alert system identifies at-risk patients, lowers mortality, study finds
7 patient safety goals for 2021 from Joint Commission


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