Local vaccination efforts continue; Phase 1A of inoculations nears completion

Hospital waiting on next round of vaccine distribution for Phase 1B

By Becky Brewster

The Culberson County Hospital District met in Regular Session on January 13, 2021.

Judy Blazek, Project Manager, updated the Board on the parking lot/façade improvements project, noting that progress continues, despite a few hiccups along the way. Len Slaughter, the project manager noted a few issues have arisen with sections of the concrete that will be addressed. The radius canopy had to be sent back for remanufacturing due to some measurement discrepancies but should be delivered for installation by the end of January. Kathy Potts, Project Architect, reviewed her site report from a January 5 inspection. Board President Laura Reyes had pointed out an issue with a handicapped ramp at the site visit. Potts noted that this handicapped ramp needed to be relocated to avoid a tight turn that would make it difficult to maneuver for persons in a wheelchair even though the ramp met the required standards. Additional project additions discussed included signage, landscaping and repainting the entire building.

The Board discussed the need for a security system for the hospital campus. A preliminary estimate for the purchase and installation of 30 cameras and all related wiring and hardware came in at almost $27,000. It was noted that this system will improve the safety for staff, patients and visitors. Preferred’s IT professional will work with the contractor to finalize the design and the cost.

Hospital Administrator Rick Gray briefed the Board on the Culberson Hospital’s response to the COVID-19, noting that cases have gone down in Van Horn with zero active cases and 18 probable cases. At meeting time, there have been a total of 267 confirmed cases in Van Horn over the last nine months which is over 12% of our County population (2019 Census Estimate: 2171). Gray reported that the hospital has started doing “rapid testing” for inpatients and transfers followed by regular testing which has more delayed results. He also reported that the hospital has received two ventilators at no-charge bringing the total number of ventilators at Culberson Hospital to five.

Gray also reported that the hospital had received its first allotment of vaccines that went primarily to hospital employees, first responders and law enforcement officials. The second dose will be available this week. He noted that there were still 14 critical access hospitals in Texas that had not received their initial allotment.

The next cycle of vaccines, when they arrive, will be for the Phase 1B population consisting of those 65 and over as well as other adults with comorbidities. The clinic, as well as the State, have begun waitlists for those wishing to sign up for the vaccine that meet the 1B criteria. Jared Chanski, Executive Vice-President of Preferred, suggested scheduling joint meetings with other local officials involved in Emergency Management to coordinate the efforts for COVID-19 response and action as the vaccine is being distributed.

In other business, the Culberson County Hospital District:

Approved the consent agenda.

Authorized the down-payment for the office furniture for various offices.