Hospitals in the northern border city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients, according to media reports.
The newspaper La Jornada reported on Thursday that both public and private hospitals in the city are no longer accepting people suspected of having Covid-19.
It said that the beds set aside for coronavirus patients in an ISSSTE hospital, three IMSS hospitals and the state-run Matamoros General Hospital are all full. The online news website Hoy Tamaulipas also reported that hospitals in the border city are saturated.
One person who experienced the dire situation firsthand is septuagenarian Tomasa González.
Hoy Tamaulipas reported that González’s daughter found her mother after she fainted on the floor of her home on Tuesday afternoon and soon realized that she had coronavirus-like symptoms.
She first took her mother to a local clinic for treatment but medical personnel said all they could do was to take González’s temperature, which was 38 C.
González was subsequently turned away from several other health care facilities, including the ISSSTE and General hospitals, due to a lack of space.
At the General Hospital, González’s family was told to take her to a temporary health care facility set up by the medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders at the Autonomous University of Tamaulipas gymnasium.
However, medical personnel there also said that they were unable to treat González. The septuagenarian and her daughter returned to the General Hospital, where the former was finally admitted after a four-hour wait.
Other people suspected to have coronavirus have also been turned away from hospitals in Matamoros, and some of them ended up dying in their homes, La Jornada said.
Francisco Ponce Lara, a chief paramedic with the Red Cross, said that at least 20 people with coronavirus-like symptoms died at their homes last weekend because they couldn’t access medical treatment or chose not to.
Some of them “hid their symptoms or didn’t want to be seen,” he said, adding that some people’s failure to seek medical attention ultimately resulted in their deaths. “There is a lot of ignorance. People think that the doctors are going to kill them.”
Ponce also said there are not enough resources or beds to respond to the coronavirus pandemic in Matamoros, which has recorded a total of 1,401 confirmed cases and 101 deaths, according to federal data.
Some people with coronavirus-like symptoms have died before reaching overburdened hospitals.
La Jornada reported that two people with respiratory problems died in a parking lot outside the Matamoros General Hospital, where they were planning to seek medical attention.
It also reported that a 52-year-old man died before reaching a hospital in Nuevo Laredo, another Tamaulipas border city located about 340 kilometers northwest of Matamoros.
Benjamín Serrano Martínez was infected with the coronavirus at his job in Nuevo Laredo with the water heater and boiler manufacturer Rheem, said his wife Alma Rosa Hernández.
She said that her husband was tested for Covid-19 on Monday after which he was told to isolate at home while he waited for the results. Serrano’s condition had worsened by Wednesday morning so Hernández asked a neighbor to help her take him to an IMSS general hospital in central Nuevo Laredo. He was dead by the time they arrived.
“My husband was out of action for three months due to a work accident. He returned to work on June 20 and he was infected [with coronavirus] in the factory,” Hernández said.
Meanwhile, health workers in Reynosa, located on the Mexico-United States border between Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo, protested on Tuesday against the lack of medical supplies and personnel at the city’s general hospital, La Jornada reported.
They also said that corpses are being piled up in a section of the hospital next to the employees’ dining room.
Érika Hernández, a doctor, said that working at the hospital is “intolerable” as a result of the inadequate management of the bodies of patients who have died due to Covid-19.
Tamaulipas, a state infamous for its security problems, has recorded 8,974 confirmed Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic and 599 deaths, according to the state government.
The municipalities with the highest number of confirmed cases are, in order, Reynosa, Matamoros, Tampico, Nuevo Laredo and Ciudad Madero. Tamaulipas borders the U.S. state of Texas, where coronavirus cases have recently surged.