A Texas hospital is so overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases that a man shot six times has waited a week for surgery

coronavirus hospital texas
Dr. Joseph Varon (right) speaks to a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas on December 29, 2020..
  • Houston man Joel Valdez is awaiting surgery to repair broken bones after having been shot six times.
  • The hospital he's in is overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases. Valdez has been waiting in his hospital bed since last Saturday.
  • A spokesperson told Fox 26 that doctors at Ben Taub Hospital have to balance cases because of spiking COVID-19 numbers.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A Texas man who was shot six times one week ago is anxiously awaiting surgery at a Houston hospital, where doctors are struggling to respond to COVID-19 cases.

Joel Valdez, a local business owner from Houston, Texas, told Fox 26 Houston that he's been waiting for surgery since last Saturday, August 7.

"Everybody is really surprised I'm still in this bed a week later," he told Fox 26 from his hospital room at Ben Taub. Valdez had been leaving a grocery store last Saturday morning when a stranger shot him six times in the neck and shoulder.

Three of those shots left one of his shoulders broken, the body part on which he's waiting to get surgery.

"Having broken bones and bullets in me for over a week now, it's a little frustrating," Valdez said.

Ben Taub's ICU is at 98% capacity, a spokesperson told Fox 26. About a third of those ICU patients are being treated for the coronavirus, the spokesperson said.

When reached for comment, the Harris Health System, which operates Ben Taub Hospital, told Insider the doctors at Ben Taub prioritize cases each day because of spiking COVID-19 numbers driven by the Delta variant.

"In response to the increase in COVID-19 cases overwhelming the hospitals of Harris Health System, our medical experts review all surgical cases throughout the day to determine the acuity level and patient's overall condition," said Amanda Callaway, spokesperson with the Harris Health System.

"Due to strained resources, surgical patients are being prioritized based on several factors, which unfortunately may result in a delay of non-emergent surgical procedures. Harris Health and its medical partners are working diligently to provide the best possible care during these difficult times," Callaway continued.

Valdez's case comes as the Delta variant surges in Texas. More than 10,000 Texans have been hospitalized as of August 10, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services. Compared to the past week, that figure reflects an increase of nearly 3,000 patients.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in June issued an executive order barring mask mandates and vaccine passports. Businesses that violate the order will receive fines of up to $1,000.

Health officials are still urging all Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, especially as the Delta variant continues to spike in various parts of the country. About 52% of the US population is fully vaccinated, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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