Insider

Hospitals across Texas are suffering from water and heat issues as winter storms wreak havoc across the state

Summary List PlacementFollowing a rare winter storm that left millions of Texans without power this week, hospitals across the state have begun reporting water- and heat-related issues, just as a new storm threatens to prolong icy conditions in the region. Two Austin-area hospitals issued statements on Wednesday regarding reports of...

winter storm 9

Summary List Placement

Following a rare winter storm that left millions of Texans without power this week, hospitals across the state have begun reporting water- and heat-related issues, just as a new storm threatens to prolong icy conditions in the region.

Two Austin-area hospitals issued statements on Wednesday regarding reports of water outages at their facilities, according to KVUE.

St. David’s South Austin Medical Center lost water pressure Wednesday, according to KXAN Austin, and as a result, had to transfer some patients to other hospitals in the area and discharged others to go home. The facility currently has just under 300 patients, according to a hospital statement given to the local news stations.

St. David’s was losing heat because water usually feeds the facility’s boiler, the statement said. An incident command team is working to transport the patients most in need to nearby hospitals with capacity, though Chief Executive Officer David Huffstutler told KXAN that other hospitals in the area were experiencing the same issue and that “no one hospital currently has the capacity to accept transport of a large number of patients.”

The team is also working with the City of Austin to find a solution to the lack of water pressure, according to Huffstutler’s statement. 

KVUE reported that staff at St. David’s had initially discovered notices alerting them that the hospital had run out of water. One nurse on duty told the outlet that the notice listed instructions for using the restroom during the water outage, including not to put toilet paper in the toilet after urination and a specific procedure to handle excrement.

Huffstutler told KXAN that emergency efforts were in progress, including distributing jugs of water for patients and employees to drink and wash their hands; securing portable toilets through the city of Austin; trying to get water trucks to the hospital; and asking employees already on shift to stay.

Ascension Seton, another medical center in Austin, also reported water outages Wednesday, according to KXAN. 

“While extreme weather conditions have caused intermittent water issues at several Ascension Seton sites of care, facility teams are working quickly to resolve the issues,” Ascension Seton told the Austin American-Statesman. “All Ascension Seton hospitals have emergency response plans in place to provide uninterrupted patient care, including access to backup generators for each care site.”

The outlet reported that the hospital system is rescheduling elective surgeries in order to prioritize inpatient hospital bed capacity.

Similar troubles have been impacting healthcare systems in other parts of the state as well. 

The San-Antonio Express News reported that the power outages in the area had upended health care services, with some hospitals forced to rely on backup generators for power. Calls for emergency service to the San Antonio Fire Department and ambulance services in the area had dramatically increased since the storm, according to the newspaper. 

In coastal Galveston, the city is under stage 5 water restrictions, due to the island’s “critically low” water supply, according to KHOU.

The major hospital in the area, UTMB Galveston, postponed all elective surgeries and procedures and closed its clinics Wednesday, after telling non-essential employees not to come into work,  a UTMB tweet said.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

And in Houston, hospitals are canceling non-urgent surgeries and trying to conserve water due to low water pressure, according to the Houston Chronicle.

A spokesperson for Houston Methodist hospitals told the newspaper that pipes have burst at some facilities in the area, while two locations have lost water altogether.  

Some experts have warned that bursting water pipes could be a problem in the coming days. 

The fire department in Austin reportedly said it had received hundreds of calls about broken water pipes since Monday, according to Nexstar Media Wire. 

The Houston Methodist spokesperson told the Chronicle that the hospital system is still “managing to meet essential needs of the community” and that its emergency rooms are very crowded “due to patients being unable to meet their medical needs at home without electricity.” 

Many warming centers in the region have also been forced to close due to power outages, as 31 people across the country have died since the frigid weather began last week. As state leaders continue to call for conservation efforts, more than 100 million Americans remain under some type of winter-weather warning, according to the National Weather Service.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: American Ballet Theatre ballerina Isabella Boylston shares her at-home leg workout

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: