Health Systems

North Texas Docs Call for Rural Support to Fight COVID-19

Case numbers in rural counties are increasing, which could impact urban areas. Like Dallas.

The North Texas Medical Society Coalition is asking for more support for rural health systems that may not be able to manage an influx of COVID-19 patients. While larger counties health systems to manage the pandemic, rural counties are less equipped to handle the complex needs of patients.

Earlier this month NTMSC was formed as a collaboration between several North Texas county medical associations to present a unified message based on science. Their first initiative pushed for continued social distancing, with doctors willing to take a stance against looser state orders. Now they are pushing for more rural support.

Their initiative could impact Dallas and Fort Worth. “Why should a doctor in Fort Worth care about the number of COVID-19 patients in Sherman? We have a highly mobile population in North Texas, making us more vulnerable to a rapid spread of the Coronavirus. This has already spread across the globe and it’s only 90 miles from Sherman to Fort Worth,” says Fort Worth physician, Dr. Robert Rogers.

The medical societies in the larger counties are helping stock personal protective equipment in rural areas to help them safely see their patients. Hospitals, too, are working together to make COVID-19 related transfers if smaller outlying hospitals become overwhelmed by coronavirus patients, says DCMS president-elect Dr. Beth Kassanoff.

While physical supplies and support are part of the coalition’s duties, the organization also provides a larger platform to highlight important issues during the pandemic. “We provide a cohesive voice for all our counties in dealing with different stakeholders, be they county or state health departments, health systems, or business leaders. We can amplify their voice and spotlight areas of need throughout the North Texas region,” says Dr. John Flores.

Most COVID-19 cases are concentrated in larger cities, but cases have spread into smaller communities over the past week, posing a potential problem for rural providers. In Grayson County alone, the number of daily hospitalizations due to presumptive COVID-19 patients has nearly doubled in the past two weeks. If rural hospitals are overwhelmed, the rural spread of the virus will impact cities as patients seek care or are sent elsewhere.

North Texas Infection Rate Statistics
County May 5, 2020 May 12, 2020
     Collin 804 939
     Fannin 20 23
     Dallas 4370 6123
     Denton 806 946
     Grayson 53 105
     Tarrant 2624 3745

The group is continuing to emphasize other measures, and knows that much of the containment depends on personal responsibility. “The power is with the people; everyone has to take ownership to protect themselves and others,” says Grayson County physician, Dr. Jonathan Williams.

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