Man shot 6 times waits more than a week for surgery after hospital is overwhelmed by covid

Guy somehow survived getting shot six times and has been at the hospital waiting for surgery for a week behind COVID patients because his injuries are non-life-threatening.

Joel Valdez isn’t in the hospital for covid-19, but he’s feeling its effect.

For 10 days, Valdez has been in a hospital bed at Ben Taub Hospital in Houston awaiting surgery after he was shot six times outside a grocery store as an unlucky bystander to a domestic dispute.

“Having broken bones and bullets in me for over a week now, it’s a little frustrating,” Valdez told KRIV over the weekend.

He tallied his injuries, which include a neck wound and three gunshot wounds to a left shoulder that’s in need of surgery: “Everybody is really surprised I’m still in this bed a week later.”

Valdez confirmed Monday afternoon he was still awaiting surgery when contacted by The Washington Post, but declined to be interviewed on the record.

At Ben Taub Hospital where Valdez is awaiting surgery, the intensive care unit was at 103 percent capacity as of Monday morning, with 33 percent of those cases related to covid-19, a spokesperson for Harris Health System told The Post. Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, the other public hospital in the Harris Health System, remains similarly stretched at 94 percent ICU capacity, with 54 percent of those cases covid-related.

Amanda Callaway, a spokesperson for the health system, said via email that in response to the influx of coronavirus cases, Harris Health System doctors must triage a patient’s condition and review the surgical cases throughout the day.

“Due to strained resources, surgical patients are being prioritized based on several factors, which unfortunately may result in a delay of nonemergent surgical procedures,” Callaway said.

The troubling fourth wave of the pandemic brought on by the highly transmissible delta variant and millions of Americans who remain unvaccinated is now straining hospital capacity in hard-hit areas such as Houston.

Last week, Arkansas reported its capacity had fallen to just eight ICU beds statewide while health officials in Mississippi warned that surging infections had pushed the state’s hospital system to the brink of “failure.” On Friday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) activated 1,500 members of the National Guard to 20 hospitals around the state to shore up dwindling capacity. Officials in Louisiana warned Monday some hospitals are “days away” from being so overwhelmed, ambulances won’t be able to transport patients.

Record numbers of covid-19 patients push hospitals and staffs to the limit

The number of new daily covid-19 hospital admissions and ICU admissions in Texas are both nearing peak levels not seen since December, according to data tracked by The Post. The seven-day average of new daily hospitalizations in the state was 11,993 as of Monday; the total was 8,632 when Valdez was shot Aug. 6.

Valdez had just finished shopping for groceries for his catering business earlier this month when he noticed a couple fighting in the parking lot. A man involved in the argument noticed Valdez and began to yell at him, he told KTRK.

“I got in my car and I was leaving and he gets in his and pulls up next to me, near the entrance of the store,” and fired multiple rounds, Valdez told the news station. “As soon as I got shot and I was driving away, the only thing I could think of when I saw the blood pouring everywhere was my son and my wife.”

In Valdez’s case, the criminal justice system has moved faster than the medical system: Within days of the incident, the man suspected of shooting Valdez was arrested.

Valdez, who has been identified as a new business owner and father to a 3-month-old child, shared with KRIV a message he wanted to give to people learning of his now 10-day wait for surgical attention: “Do your best to maintain your health and not end up in a situation that puts you in the hospital right now.”

Hannah Knowles contributed to this report.