Editorial: Nueces County Hospital Bed Crisis

The Crónica is calling on Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales to end the hospital bed crisis by working with the Nueces County Hospital District to pay hard working nurses a fair wage and educational benefits. The Nueces County Hospital District is a taxing district that has 68 million dollars in revenue. Our tax dollars should be used to raise the salaries and benefits of nurses to end our dangerous hospital bed crisis.

Nueces County Hospital District has $68.8 million in their budget.

After dramatically announcing that every hospital bed in the area is full due to a lack of nursing staff, County Judge Barbara Canales who has direct oversight over the Nueces County Hospital District, offered zero solutions to solve the situation. Instead, Canales asked area nurses to “voluntarily” rejoin the area work force without offering better wages and benefits. She also sensationalized the problem saying we didn’t have “beds” when in actuality it’s because she’s not insisting that nurses be paid more. The Crónica believes Judge Barbara Canales has failed in overseeing the Nueces County Hospital District and the Port of Corpus Christi, the most powerful and important boards she oversees. At the Hospital District, Barbara Canales appointed Efrain Guerrero, “Happy the Clown,” to the board. Calls to “Happy” for answers on nursing pay and the dangerous hospital bed shortage went unanswered.

To make matters worse, no emergency board meeting has been noticed to help area residents who fear the worst in an emergency now that we do not have available hospital beds and we are in crisis. Most egregiously, Canales after making the announcement that we have zero available hospital beds, again left out of town. It is time Canales show leadership to end the hospital bed crisis and convene an emergency meeting of the Nueces County Hospital District and the Nueces County Commissioner’s Court. Only Nueces County has authority and oversight of our hospital system and County Judge Canales has known this was coming and literally did nothing to protect the public.

Canales has shown an incredible lack of compassion and concern for nurses in Nueces County refusing to pay them a fair wage. Asking nurses who have made enormous sacrifices to now “volunteer” is a slap in the face. This after Canales paid out tens of thousands of overtime to her personal staff, is a community outrage. We strongly urge Canales to support our nurses. Canales needs to work harder, with integrity, and end her personal conflicts of interests such as the fact her “common law” husband Doug Allison is poised to make a million dollars off the Port of Corpus Christi and bring the money into her very own household. Barbara Canales’ refusal to pay our Nueces County nurses a fair wage and then announcing zero available hospital beds threatens the health and well being of our families. This is the last straw. Lead or resign Canales.

Statement from Barbara Canales, Nueces County Judge

We have an urgent situation in the Coastal Bend.

Because of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, we are now in another surge of infections. And our capacity to handle these infections is limited by a shortage of nurses.

Here’s how bad it is:

Every staffed hospital bed is full. All area hospitals are on divert, which means they cannot accept patients. This includes Corpus Christi, Victoria, Kingsville, Beeville, and San Antonio.

There are beds available but no nursing staff for them. 

I have reached out to state officials at Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Department of State Health Services and will be making an official request for assistance as soon as possible.

This help may take time, or may not be available – there is a shortage of nurses across the state and the entire nation.

Many nurses left the workforce during the pandemic, some due to the workload, and others due to providers which went out of business due to COVID.

I would ask that in this time of crisis, all nurses who are able and not currently working step up and contact our hospitals to help out.

We truly need your help – our community is facing an enormous challenge, and nurses hav ALWAYS risen to the challenge.

If you are a nurse and want to see how you can help, contact the Nueces County Volunteer Help Line at 859-396-8204.