Top of mind life care planning: Follow guidelines to avoid COVID-19
By Sandra W. Reed
The most important Life Care Planning issue today is adherence to the guidelines that the medical professionals and scientists are telling us are essential to avoiding the spread of COVID-19. This is especially true for those in Texas and, yes, even in Somervell County, where cases remain relatively low.
Too many people in our county are not wearing masks, not social distancing, not washing hands, sanitizing surfaces and adhering to the other precautions advocated to contain this pandemic. They act as if, because cases are low here, there is no risk. Make no mistake. This is dangerous for all of us, young and old. We must all do our part not to add to the crisis. Here’s one reason why.
Hospitals in Fort Worth are at Capacity
Depending on the severity of the case, our local hospital may be able to handle care of a person with COVID. However, many, if not most, of Somervell County residents needing treatment for heart attack, stroke, injuries and other serious medical conditions will need to seek that care in Fort Worth.
Yesterday I learned from a frontline hospital caregiver, who works with ER and ICU patients, including COVID-19 patients, that Fort Worth hospitals are at capacity. Harris Southwest has insufficient space to isolate Coronavirus patients from other patients. Patients, with and without the virus, are housed next to each other in the ER and ICU. The problem is so bad that patients are awaiting removal of a deceased patient before securing a bed.
In addition, Dr. Karim Razack , a critical care pulmonologist reports “The THR [Harris] Southwest hospital ICU has been full for the last 1-2 weeks. We have intermittently overflowed the ICU to outside the main unit due to lack of beds. 40-55% of the ICU is occupied by critical COVID patients alone. Our non-ICU COVID floor is now overflowing to a second unit as well. “
Dr. Razack warns this is a dangerous situation and worsening. He states: “I don’t want to reach the point that Italy did when they had to start declining care to the sickest because of lack of resources. But it may be coming.”
Those not afflicted with COVID but transferred to Fort Worth for a different medical emergency could be exposed to the virus if this situation does not improve. Think about it. This could be your parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle with a serious illness. It could be your teenager involved in an auto accident.
Adhering to Recommended Guidelines Means Fewer Cases
Adhering to the recommended guidelines decreases the cases of COVID-19. If cases go down, capacity in hospitals increases. It’s that simple. Please, even if you have not previously done so, start today to wear a mask any time you are in public, maintain a distance of six feet from others, sanitize your hands after touching surfaces outside your home, sanitize items brought into the home. It’s the essential life care planning needed for today. And, the life you save could be your own.
Sandra W. Reed practices Elder Law in Somervell County, handling probating of estates, drafting of wills, trusts, powers of attorney and deeds as well as estate and Medicaid planning. She lives in beautiful Chalk Mountain. She can be reached at 254.797.0211; 817.946.2809 or by at firstname.lastname@example.org.