The latest wave of COVID has been a real shock to the system, said Mark Leitner, CEO of UT Health Carthage.
“Everyone has been affected,” he said. “Basically what happened, and you could argue that urban areas, take UT Tyler for example, generally what would happen is that we would have patients in our hospital, they would continue to become more seriously sick and we would move them to Tyler. So that would be the usual way patients would move through the system. Well, we’ve had a situation now where Tyler is just full. Tyler has been full, Trinity Mother Francis, Good Shepherd, Longview Regional – they’ve all been sated, we’ve been saved to our hospitals.
“We basically had to provide care at a level that we haven’t provided for a long time,” he said. “We had to ask for resources, we had to ask for the expertise, the equipment that a lot of equipment we didn’t even have, we had to bring it into our hospital. We were touched. Everyone was affected at all levels. It has been quite difficult at times in the last few months.
Leitner spoke to the Carthage City Commission on Monday. The hospital is seeking a total of $ 499,000 in county and city COVID relief funding to pay for the staff, equipment and other resources they need to treat COVID-19 patients over the past few months.
UT Health is researching $ 130,000 from the city, in particular, and $ 369,000 from the county. At a previous Commissioners Tribunal meeting, county officials told Leitner that the tribunal was unable to make a decision in terms of funding as they currently have no budget allocated for the $ 4million. allocated COVID stimulus dollars. The county tabled the issue until their September 28 meeting.
Leitner told Carthage commissioners his request was not the usual way his hospital would seek funding – UT Health Carthage, when asking the state for additional COVID funding, was asked to ask address to counties and cities.
“We kept hitting the state about it, so just to be specific here,” Leitner said. “The state has since returned and said it will provide us with personnel, equipment and support. But, of course, again, there was even more delay in all of this that led them to say they would. Now we are starting to put staff in place with the state resources that have been made available to us. “
In addition to equipment issues, Leitner said, there was a staff shortage once the state-funded nurses left. UT Health Carthage has had to temporarily increase the wages of its nurses for an eight-week period as hospitals across the country are calling in nurses as the COVID pandemic enters a new wave. Leitner mentioned that a California hospital was paying nurses $ 300 an hour.
“Basically what we’re talking about is funding to support what we’ve done with the staff to raise the premium salary basically that has gone to the staff here at the hospital to keep them in place,” did he declare.
Leitner told commissioners that the cost of providing this nursing bonus is more expensive than the hospital is earning in revenue from the increase in patient numbers.
Commissioners and City Manager Steve Williams asked Leitner if the hospital would see any funds coming out of the special session of the Texas Legislature that begins next week, and Leitner said it was a possibility.
“I don’t know if it will be retrospective. I don’t think it will, but it could be, ”Leitner said.
“So we may have to wait and see what the state is doing,” said Mayor Lin Joffrion.
“That would be my recommendation – and Mark and I had a great conversation,” Williams said. “We all know our hospital, we’re proud to have it and we want you all to be here and want to work with all of you. But obviously we want to make sure that we are managing our funds as well as possible. “