As published on TXK Today
It’s been a year since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, and Nutex-owned Texarkana Emergency Center & Hospital has risen to the challenge every day since by offering exceptional care to their community when it mattered most.
At the first sign of COVID-19, Texarkana Emergency Center & Hospital immediately sprung into action and increased patient safety, caregiver protection, and the frequency of thorough cleaning and decontamination. Cindy Young, Chief Executive Officer of Texarkana Emergency Center & Hospital, says she was ordering PPE and preparing her business for the outbreak “almost a month before” other hospitals in the area. While many clinics in the area closed their doors out of fear and uncertainty, the staff at Texarkana Emergency Center & Hospital stood firm in their duty to the community and began ramping up services.
Dr. Matt Young, Chief Medical Officer of Texarkana Emergency Center & Hospital, prides their courageous staff for continuing to treat all emergencies, COVID-19 and non-COVID-19-related. Patients were consistently seen in a matter of minutes, compared to larger hospitals, where wait times ranged for multiple hours. While the major hospitals quickly became overwhelmed, it was clear the vital role micro-hospitals were playing in alleviating the high volume of patients in need.
Texarkana Emergency Center & Hospital opened its beds to all emergency cases, relieving traffic from larger hospital systems and seeing a vast increase in patient volumes per day. Many patients were seriously ill and in need of ICU care, as these areas were overrun at other hospitals. The staff managed these patients for days until ICU beds at those hospitals became available.
“Our facilities stood up and staffed up when others were told to stand down or couldn’t respond due to the uncertainty and the pandemic’s paralyzing effects. This is proof of the power of micro-hospitals and the need for our lifesaving care shown during this pandemic,” said Dr. Young, CMO. “We were the pop-off valve of healthcare. The ERs in our micro-hospitals tripled or even quadrupled our 24-hour census, which meant we were prepared. With that increase in volume, we increased all aspects, staff, supplies, medicine and most importantly, areas to treat all emergent patients; again, focusing on protecting both patients and caregivers.”
Alongside their team of highly experienced professionals, the frontline workers at Texarkana Emergency Center & Hospital never backed down from the challenges COVID-19 threw their way and instead faced them head-on.
“Our teams of caregivers deserve the most credit. They took the culture we have cultivated and rose to the occasion. They risked their lives every minute of every shift to increase our country’s emergency care areas during this pandemic. Our micro-hospital made a macro-difference,” said Dr. Young, CMO.
In addition to being named “Best Emergency Room” multiple years in a row, they have been awarded many esteemed titles by various well-respected local publications, including “Best Customer Service During the 2020 Pandemic.”
The Future of Healthcare
One doctor who saw the major advantages of micro-hospitals long before this pandemic is Dr. Tom Vo, founder and CEO of Nutex Health. Dr. Vo was working at Houston Methodist Hospital about 12 years ago when he became increasingly aware of the number of patients who had to travel to receive medical care. People would drive hours to reach the hospital, only to wait for extended periods until a doctor could finally see them. He knew then; there was a significant need for quicker, more convenient, and accessible healthcare.
Since that revelation, Dr. Vo has successfully opened and helped manage 15 micro-hospitals across the country, including Texarkana Emergency Center & Hospital. And with 15 more openings lined up, he’s just getting started.
“Even before COVID-19, there was a need for this model on both a local and national scale, and after COVID-19, there’s an even greater need. The larger hospitals can’t move as fast or provide the level of flexibility that we can,” said Dr. Vo. “We, as a smaller hospital, are able to move a lot faster and provide more of the services patients need. For example, with testing, we were able to get the tests, mobilize, and get the PPE much faster and more efficiently than some of the larger hospitals who have bigger structural limitations.”
When the demand for resources is greater than the supply at large hospitals, it creates a constraint, or a bottleneck, that restricts patients from smoothly getting through the clinic system. Micro-hospitals help relieve those restraints by offering the services and resources in high demand. This not only helps the larger hospitals with their load, but it benefits the people in these communities by giving them more options. It also gives hospitals competition that was not there before, creating pressure for larger hospitals to provide better care for their patients.
When progressive healthcare is widely available, it’s a substantial victory for the community, as it benefits both the patients and the caregivers pursuing this mission. Cindy Young has experienced the advantages of this model firsthand.
“I think the lack of staffing and capacity was the biggest thing that was exposed at major hospitals throughout the pandemic. We are nimble and flexible, so we could easily ramp things up and adjust as needed. Because we are small, we have a more personal relationship with our patients, and they look to us as healthcare leaders in our community,” said Young, CEO.
Dr. Vo’s vision continues to produce successful micro-hospitals that enhance the healthcare industry both locally and nationally and have been instrumental in aiding larger hospital systems during the COVID-19 pandemic.