Emergency in the ER

How Local Hospitals Are Dealing With COVID-19


Maxie Eller, Writer

COVID-19 is the virus that is rocking the world. Schools are canceled, businesses are closed, and people are being told not to leave their homes. Hospitals and medical centers around the world are being flooded with COVID-19 cases every day. States such as New York, California, and Washington are experiencing a mass outbreak of the virus. Here in Texas, and even in Ellis County, what are local hospitals doing to combat the virus that has taken over everyone’s life? After so many questions and concerns, here are the facts from a healthcare professional. 


“Obviously, the hospital staff was anxious at first, but internal hospital plans were implemented for team members to follow for the safety of team members and patients,” said Andrew Eller.  Mr. Eller is the Director of Emergency Services at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Waxahachie. “These plans are ready to go and put into motion when such an event arises. Facility and system equipment and resources are moved into place to anticipate and meet the needs of the communities we serve.” 


As the Director of Emergency Services, Eller has been overseeing COVID-19 preparations and has been implementing plans to help staff and patients remain healthy and calm. The emergency department is no stranger to life-threatening situations, and hospital team members are ready and willing to serve wherever they can. 


“We just want to keep patients safe and our own families safe. Nurses and the team, want to, of course, help patients, but they also want to make sure that their own families are safe every day when they come home.” 


Currently, hospitals across the nation, as well as in our local area, have set up what they call ‘field tents’ or ‘field hospitals’ to treat those who need to be tested for COVID-19. These buildings are designed so that those who feel that they have the virus can be helped without infecting those inside the hospital. 


“The field tent is an extension of the facility,” said Eller. “Just like with any other emergency room visit, patients are registered, triaged, and screened by a physician provider.  Based on a patient’s presenting symptoms a treatment plan is determined and implemented. These tents help reduce unnecessary exposure to health care workers and residents in the community seeking health care for non-COVID-19 related reasons.”


Mr. Eller and his staff have been using Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to help prevent nurses from becoming infected. 


“All hospitals across the country have implemented PPE.  That includes gloves, gowns, masks, and safety goggles. Patients that are at higher risk are also placed in isolation rooms that have negative pressure.  Our goal is to provide excellent care to our patients while keeping our health care team safe, as well as prevent spread in the community.”    


Hospitals and local government officials are reminding people to stay home and to stay away from other people. As of now, schools are closed until May 3 with the potential to be shut down until the end of the school year. Ellis County is under a shelter-in-place order and non-essential businesses have been closed until further notice. 


“Federal and local government agencies have provided excellent advice as to how everyday citizens can join the fight against COVID-19.  As people stay home and self-quarantine, frequently wash their hands, and avoid large gatherings, this will greatly reduce the risk of catching or spreading this disease,” said Eller.  


In this time of stress, nurses and hospital leaders, such as Mr. Eller, are working around the clock to make sure that the residents in Ellis County’s health care needs are met.  As COVID-19 continues to spread, medical facilities are ready to meet the challenge. 


“I know that the news shows a lot of anxiety related to this, but people just need to know that local hospitals and local governments are working well together to continue to develop and formalize plans to address the growing health care needs. Here in our local area, our hospitals are ready to meet the needs of the community.” 


Disclaimer: The author of this story, Maxie Eller, is the daughter of Mr. Andrew Eller.