Most patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital in Humble are younger, ages 19 to 59.
Northeast Hospital is at 111 percent capacity with almost 60 percent of those patients hospitalized because of COVID.
Memorial Hermann Northeast and Memorial Hermann The Woodlands, the two hospitals under Justin Kendrick’s leadership, currently represent 22 percent of all COVID patients in Memorial Hermann’s 14 hospital system.
Those were the major take-aways from Justin Kendrick, CEO for Memorial Hermann Northeast and Memorial Hermann The Woodlands, at Partnership Lake Houston’s Atascocita BizCom Oct. 14.
“With this last surge, we are on the downhill curve of this pandemic,” Kendrick said as he interpreted a slide outlining the four waves of the pandemic since it began. “On Aug. 24, our patient counts that day represented the highest we have seen. We see the curve now going down. That is a positive direction.”
Patients coming in with COVID are younger, he said, and while mortality rates are higher for older folks, anyone who has had it would wish they never had. It is taking a toll on the younger population.
“When one kind of disease starts taking precedence,” Kendrick said, “it impacts our ability to respond to all sorts of other things such as heart attacks or neurological disorders. That is why it is important to flatten this curve so we can take care of everything.”
Kendrick said the Northeast campus has “ … very much seen a disproportionate share of COVID hospitalizations…”, as high as a third of all COVID patients in the Memorial Hermann system, according to Kendrick.
“We have to start asking why, and we can start by looking at vaccination rates,” he said. “We know Harris County right now fully vaccinated is at 66 percent of all eligible residents. Our area has been behind that number by about 5 to 7 percent. As we go further up into Liberty County, the number is higher than that.”
Unlike Lake Houston, Kendrick said Memorial Hermann’s hospitals in the Fort Bend County area have been able to carry on normal types of surgeries.
“We can see that the vaccination rates around the country are directly impacting hospitalizations,” he said.
Kendrick said he always is asked the percent of those admitted who are COVID vaccinated compared to those who are not.
Just over 3 percent of patients admitted are vaccinated “ … which tells us the vaccinations are doing their job by limiting the progression of the disease and keeping people from needing hospitalization,” he said.
In a current snapshot, Kendrick showed that 63 percent of COVID hospital admits to Northeast were patients aged 50 or younger. He also displayed a slide projection from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that shows information throughout the United States including Texas and Harris County.
“We can tell from this we are on a downward trend. It shows worst- and best-case scenarios,” he said. “That leads us to the question, what can we do to keep this going?”
Kendrick’s answer: Vaccinate, mask up, keep your distance and get a booster when it is allowed.
“Something big we have our eye on is the ‘twindemic’ that we are hearing about. The combination of the flu and COVID,” he said. “It is important that we all get the shot to avoid any double-dynamic should we see another spike in COVID.”
For anyone who suspects they or a loved one may have been exposed, Kendrick recommends getting tested using a home test or an urgent care, physician or pharmacy. Then see a physician to manage the situation to “ … keep yourself or your loved ones out of the hospital,” he said.
One valuable resource is the Memorial Hermann Nurse Health Line, staffed by nurses who can help navigate by answering questions and arranging for an appointment. There is no cost, the line is open every day, all day, and callers don’t have to be a Memorial Hermann patient, Kendrick said, 713-338-7979.
“I have to thank so many of you out in the community who give us well wishes,” Kendrick said as he concluded his presentation. “You may not think it makes a difference, but every well wish really is meaningful and impactful to everyone on the front line. Thank you so much.”