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Bredimus: 'Encouragment is not working'

With COVID numbers at an all-time high, the CNO at MMH, Kit Bredimus went before the city council Monday asking for enforcement of a mask mandate.

MIDLAND, Texas — COVID-19 cases are at an all time high in West Texas. No one knows that more than local healthcare workers. That’s why Kit Bredimus, the Chief Nursing Officer for Midland Memorial Hospital is asking Mayor Patrick Payton and the Midland city council to enforce a mask mandate.

He told the council Midland has a record number of hospitalizations; there were over 80 admitted COVID patients with just 14 ventilators left. Bredimus also told the council that the COVID hospitalization rate is at 30-percent – double what is considered a high hospitalization rate.

“We have all heard the stories about what’s going on nationwide and I don’t think that understand that it’s happening here as well. We have many members of our community very sick from this virus,” Bredimus said.

His plea to the council is now posted to social media, shared nearly 800 times.

The post spells out what the situation is at the hospital. Bredimus says more people are being admitted as their resources continue to dwindle.

“If you are in a car accident, have a heart attack or need to be sent to a higher level of care, every ICU across this region and Southern New Mexico is full, including ours,” Bredimus wrote.

Even more grim, he believes if the community does not take action, Midland is on track to become the next hotspot.

“I know that if we continue on this pace and we do not put anything in place to stop or mitigate the spread of this virus, we will be unable to do what we need to do,” he said.

Throughout the pandemic, city leadership has advocated for people to take personal responsibility to wear a mask, practice good hygiene and social distance from others.

“Encouraging responsibility is not working,” Bredimus said.

He asked city leaders to enact measures that would follow the executive order issued by Gov. Abbott, including the required use of face masks. Mayor Patrick Payton told media in a zoom press conference Tuesday that it’s not possible to enforce, only encourage the use of a mask in public.

Bredimus’ statement to the city council reads as follows: 

“Thank you, Mayor and city council for this opportunity. I would also like to thank you for your support in expanding our testing capability. My name is Dr. Kit Bredimus, and I am the Chief Nursing Officer at Midland Memorial Hospital.

Having grown up in Midland, I have seen this community go through some pretty significant events. I have been on the frontlines as an Emergency Room Nurse for over a decade.  In that time, I have been through the Swine Flu, SARS, Ebola, as well as every other disaster to hit our city. What we are experiencing now with COVID-19 is unlike anything I have ever seen. 

Since the onset of COVID, we have had to request over 100 outside nurses to help battle this problem, and an additional 40 nurses requested from the state and federal agencies. If it were not for the State sending in disaster resources, we would have already been forced to shut down many critical operations this community depends on.

Today, we have 81 COVID patients in the hospital. We only have 14 invasive ventilators left for use. This week, we are opening a new floor to try to accommodate more and more of our own patients. Less than 18% of our COVID population is from out of county, and that number is declining as we have been closed to various transfers for weeks. Our testing was over 30% positivity rate last week, a significant increase from the prior week. Our COVID hospitalization rate is hovering around 30%, double what is considered a high hospitalization rate. We are desperately trying to source enough equipment and personnel to expand beyond our capacity. I am continually amazed by my team’s resilience and adaptability, but we need your help.

I am here today to implore the city council and the Mayor to take a clear and unequivocal stance on the use of masks and other minimum standard health protocols recommended by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Furthermore, I strongly encourage the city council and the Mayor to put measures in place that, if followed, have been proven to significantly reduce the spread of this virus. I want to make it clear that we healthcare workers are no longer the frontlines; we are the last line. The frontlines now belong to the community.

While the call for personal responsibility has been recommended by Mayor Payton, we are at the mercy of those who choose not to take responsibility. Encouraging responsibility is not working. I continue to see many people in this city blatantly disregard the governor’s order to wear masks, social distance, and avoid crowds. What is a minor inconvenience for many is potentially lifesaving, as roughly half of COVID transmission is thought to come from asymptomatic individuals. 

This is not a political issue or a matter of opinion. I am sounding the alarm right now that our healthcare system is becoming overwhelmed and we are on the same course as El Paso and other hot spots.

Even if you are not hospitalized for COVID, this will affect you. Surgeries are being cancelled. New moms and babies are not able to have family by their side. If you are in a car accident, have a heart attack, or need to be sent to a higher level of care, every ICU across this region and southern New Mexico is full, including ours.

I had to listen from 1,000 miles away, as nurses updated me on my mom’s deteriorating condition due to COVID. My uncle, who lived in the same house, died just the day before from sudden respiratory failure, but they would not test for COVID post-mortem due to limited testing supplies. I am thankful that my mom survived her ICU stay, but I have had to speak to several families in our area who were not as fortunate.

The hospital is doing all it can at this point, and the only thing to change the trajectory of this outbreak are the attitudes and behaviors of our city and this council.  I am asking all of you to come out with a full throat endorsement of the Governor’s executive order for minimum standard health protocols, including required use of masks.”