Saturday, January 9, 2021

Austin-Travis County Begins Work to Open Alternate Care Site



For immediate release: January 9, 2021
Contact: Austin-Travis County Joint Information System, 512-974-0699, hsempio@austintexas.gov

 
Austin-Travis County Begins Work to Open Alternate Care Site

Health leaders: taking protective health precautions are more important now than ever
Austin, Texas — After record new COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions, the City of Austin and Travis County have begun the process to open the Alternate Care Site to help expand the healthcare system's capacity for the region. The site will be prepared to take COVID-19 patients as soon as staffing is in place.

The purpose of the facility is to take specific patients who need a lower acuity of care to help relieve stress on local hospitals. Patients needing higher-level or intensive care will still be cared for at hospitals. 
  
The Austin-Travis County Alternate Care Site (ACS) is based at the Austin Convention Center. This facility was established during the summer of 2020 after the area experienced its first major surge. It has been on standby but has not taken any patients to date.   

 "Activating the Alternate Care Site means that we believe that it is inevitable that the healthcare system in Central Texas will exceed capacity and will soon be overwhelmed," said Jason Pickett, Alternate Health Authority for Austin-Travis County. "When we exceed capacity, we will do so not only for COVID patients, but for all individuals needing hospital care in this community. We need this community to take substantial steps now to avoid a catastrophic surge."

On Friday, the City and the County submitted a request to the State of Texas to request staffing of the facility.  The request has been approved and the State is coordinating staffing at this time.  

Patients will need to be referred to the Alternate Care Site by hospitals staff and will likely be transferred from local hospitals based on criteria established in consultation with physicians and hospital staff. 

Once healthcare professionals accept the first patient at the ACS, the facility will have doctors and other medical personnel on-site 24 hours a day.  Additionally, the facility has: 
  • Meals and beverages 
  • Linen and laundry services 
  • Toileting assistance 
  • Showering and/or bathing assistance 
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 
  • Wi-Fi 
  • Telephone service 
  • Television 
  • Social services 
"We have been sounding the alarm for weeks that our situation was worsening," said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "Our hospitals and intensive care units are filling up and deaths continue to rise throughout Central Texas. You must take simple actions today to stop this from worsening. Stay home if you can. If you must leave home, wear a mask, practice proper hand hygiene, stay six feet apart from others, and do not gather with someone you do not live with. The whole region must act now."

For COVID-19 information and updates, visit AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.
 

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