A Longview emergency room doctor said he was not referring to specific conditions in Gregg County in a short news clip featuring comments he made Friday morning on MSNBC.
Dr. Craig Meek is an emergency room doctor with Leading Edge Medical Associates in Longview, which staffs Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center emergency rooms in Longview, Marshall and Kilgore and operates a couple of freestanding emergency rooms.
On Friday morning, an MSNBC news program talked about Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision Friday to shut bars down, reduce restaurant capacity and restrict the size of outdoor gatherings because of the growing number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Texas. The news show’s host said doctors and nurses are concerned about the growing number of COVID-19 cases, and then said a Texas emergency room physician said the hardest part of his job right now isn’t treating patients but “finding somewhere to put them.”
The news show then ran parts of a recording Meek said he made in response to a request from the Texas College of Emergency Physicians to talk about what it’s like for emergency medicine physicians to treat patients in a pandemic. He serves on the organization’s executive board, and he said was speaking on behalf of the organization, which includes doctors in larger areas of Texas that are currently considered hot spots for COVID-19.
“One of the hardest things of my job is not taking care of sick patients,” he says in the video. “It’s when we stabilize those patients, and then I walk into a small conference room with family members and try to explain to them that we don’t have a bed for them, that we’re going to have to transfer them to another facility to look for the appropriate resources to take care of them. That’s hard to do.”
Contacted later on Friday, Meek said he didn’t know the video was going to be aired on national television and offered assurances that local hospital capacity is fine.
“Luckily, right now, it appears we have the resources to take care of the needs of this county,” Meek said, and local hospitals and intensive care units are not filled up with COVID-19 patients.
He said he was speaking from experience, though, of having to transfer patients from emergency rooms not directly attached to hospitals with intensive care units to a facility that could provide adequate care for a patient’s needs. The Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center in Marshall, for example, has an emergency room but not an intensive care unit. He said he has had to transfer COVID-19 patients from there to Longview.