Watch CBS News

Texas hospitals suffer from water issues amid widespread power outages

Texas faces water crisis as death toll climbs
Texas faces water crisis as death toll mounts from frigid temps 03:56

Following a deadly storm that swept through Texas this week, widespread power outages and water issues have impacted millions of people in the state. Hospitals have suffered, with some having to restrict water use and transport patients to other facilities. 

St. David's HealthCare said in a statement to CBS News on Thursday that its South Austin Medical Center lost water pressure and was restricting water usage. 

The city of Austin is now under a boil water notice due to a power outage at the The Ullrich Water Treatment Plant, the city's largest water treatment facility, and drops in water pressures "below minimum standards."

According to St. David's HealthCare, the South Austin Medical Center's incident command team was distributing bottles and jugs of water to patients and employees for drinking and hand washing. The hospital was also losing heat because water feeds the facility's boiler.

The incident command team was working with the city for a solution and was working to find "a transportation solution to get patients who are medically able to be discharged home safely." 

In addition to these measures, the hospital was working to get water trucks and portable toilets, and was canceling all non-emergency procedures. "Through our national partner, HCA Healthcare, we are able to secure and source food, linens, medication and supplies needed to care for and serve our patients," the statement said.

The hospital, which currently has just under 300 patients, transported the most in-need patients – about 5% of patients – to other hospitals, according to the statement. St. David's added that "because this is a state-wide emergency situation that is also impacting other hospitals within the Austin area, no one hospital currently has the capacity to accept transport of a large number of patients."

According to The Texas Tribune, Ascension Seton hospitals in Austin have also been affected. A spokesperson for the hospital said "extreme weather conditions have caused intermittent water issues at several Ascension Seton facilities."

And Dell Children's hospital in Austin asked patients not to take showers and to use hand sanitizer for cleaning their hands due to water pressure issues, the radio station KUT reported. In a letter to patients obtained by the station, the hospital also said toilets cannot be flushed, and that linens were being changed only as needed.

CBS News has reached out to these and other Texas hospital systems in areas impacted by the winter storm. 

Austin is just one city struggling in the storm's aftermath. As of Thursday morning, hundreds of thousands were still without power across the state, according to, and officials had ordered 7 million people to boil tap water before drinking it, the Associated Press reported.

In the city of Arlington, two major hospitals — Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital and Medical City of Arlington — were suffering from water pressure issues, CBS DFW reported Wednesday

Blake Kretz, president of Texas Health Arlington Memorial, sent a statement to CBS DFW saying "consistently cold, and below-freezing temperatures" were causing "significant water-pressure issues throughout the city of Arlington," and the hospital was providing bottled water to patients and staff.

"Safety, security and emergency management teams at Texas Health Arlington Memorial are working diligently to keep vital hospital functions available to those in need," the statement said.

"The hospital will work in tandem with the Arlington Fire Department for additional water resources," it continued. The Arlington Fire Department has sent a fire truck to provide water pressure at Arlington Memorial, CBS DFW reported.

In a statement to CBS DFW Wednesday, Medical City of Arlington said it has also been impacted by the city's water pressure issues and had "several days' supply of bottled water on-hand for our patients and staff." The hospital was working with the city and fire department for additional water supplies. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.