'Milestone' reached in plans for COVID-19 hospital unit

Posted at 7:37 PM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 23:14:00-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Texas Department of Emergency Management released an assessment Friday on Nueces County's plans to create a hospital unit dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients.

The move grants the county permission to proceed with plans for the what is technically known as an ACS -- an alternative-care site. Its goal: to take the strain of treating COVID-19 patients off of local hospitals.

"Today was a milestone," said Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales. "It’s excellent news."

With the Coastal Bend seeing a spike in novel coronavirus cases, it's also welcome news.

COVID-19 patients would be moved to the unit, allowing those other facilities to operate normally.

Canales would like to avoid the situation Harris, Dallas, Travis, and Bexar counties are confronted with right now. Gov. Greg Abbott banned elective surgeries at hospitals in those communities because they're close to, at, or even beyond capacity.

“Not having elective surgeries because you have so many COVID-19 patients -- you’re really not able to serve the general public,” she said.

The plan is to convert an unused section of CHRISTUS Spohn Memorial Hospital into the COVID-19 Unit at a cost of between $1.5 million and $3 million.

Critics of the plan don't like the idea of spending that much money on a building that's slated for demolition in the coming years. Canales sees it differently.

“It’s a very small price to pay for the opportunity to say, ‘We’re OK. Anybody gets sick -- we can take care of you," she said.

Despite declaring Friday's developments a milestone, Canales admits there are several hurdles yet to be cleared before the ACS is operational.

"There’s ten more things that have to happen before it becomes an alternate care site,” she said.