Digital Exclusive: Rural healthcare in the Basin

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PERMIAN BASIN (YourBasin) – While hospitalizations remain somewhat stable in the Basin, patients from rural areas have been transferred to MCH and ORMC.

Currently, seven of the 33 COVID positive patients at MCH are from outside of Ector County. ORMC has one patient from out of county currently hospitalized.

“When it comes down to a patient level, it depends on what the patient needs,” says Amanda Everett MCH Emergency Management Coordinator. “Every hospital has different equipment, different nurse skill sets. So depending on what the patient needs is where the patient is going to go.”

Everett serves as the Regional Advisory Council for region J which stretches over 200 miles from Howard County to Presidio County. And, over 200 miles traveling south to north from Brewster County to Andrews.

MCH is reporting one patient from Andrews while ORMC is also reporting one.

For rural areas in Texas, it’s not about the capacity but how ill a person is.

“If they need a critical care intensive, they’re going to have to go to Midland, Odessa, or Lubbock and Andrews County residents are use to that,” says Gordon Mattimoe, Direct of Andrews County Health Department.

Mattimoe says, there are no intensives in rural areas and are lucky to find family practice and internal medicine physicians. He says it just doesn’t happen and you can find those needs in more populous areas.

“Rural healthcare. It’s one of the reasons I went to school to be a nurse practitioner. I worked in Crane County for several years. That’s really want inspired me to go to nurse practitioner school,” says Mattimoe. “We just don’t have a lot of providers.”

Everett knows the vast area in West Texas can be challenging traveling for healthcare.

“Because of how vast the property is in west Texas there is a lot of land to cover so it takes a long time just to travel to our outside communities,” says Everett. “We have that relationship where they can be sent over here and we can take care of them.”

Tying back to Mattimoe about staffing shortage, Everett says that’s been the main issue.

“Keeping that skill set has always been difficult,” she states. “Staffing has always been an issue and us being so rural and frontier out here it’s always been an issue.”

In a report from the Texas Observer, more than one-fifth of Texas’ 254 counties have one doctor or none at all.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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