VOX – Terry Scoggin, CEO of Titus Regional Medical Center in Mount Pleasant, Texas, saw his first Covid-19 surge in May 2020, when an outbreak at a meat processing plant filled almost all of his small hospital’s ICU beds.
But the worst of the pandemic didn’t come until 2022. By January, the hospital, the last independent rural hospital in northeast Texas, had lived through four separate surges in 18 months.
They had reopened their building’s third floor, closed eight years ago, and relied on traveling nurses to staff their beds. Then, at the end of 2021, the government funding that had paid for that extra help ran out.
For the first two months of 2022, as patients lined the building’s hallways and his staff struggled to find anywhere else to send them, Scoggin said his hospital experienced its most traumatic trial yet.
“We didn’t have the staff,” Scoggin told me. “People were dying and you couldn’t get them out.”
But Scoggin isn’t just worried about the strain his hospital is under right now. He worries about how three years without a real break — five Covid surges, a monkeypox case that forced his facility to prepare for a wider outbreak, and now a nasty wave of RSV and flu — is compromising his ability to plan and prepare for the future.
The pandemic pummeled hospitals like his. Titus serves its hometown of Mount Pleasant, population 15,000, as well as 70,000 other residents in Titus County and four surrounding counties.
Four hospitals within 35 miles of his facility have closed in the last eight years. TRMC is a medical oasis in northeast Texas; sometimes they will even see patients from just over the border in Arkansas, Louisiana, or Oklahoma.
TRMC has a 70-year-old building in desperate need of updates, including a $500,000 repair to the building’s elevators, and the kitchen should be remodeled, Scoggin said.
But the impact of the last three years extends well beyond the hospital’s walls. Three years of constant crisis means the hospital hasn’t been able to invest in outpatient care proven to avert bigger problems for patients later on.
“We’re sick” is the way Scoggin summarizes the health challenges of the community his hospital serves … READ MORE.