As Coronavirus shut down Houston, healthcare workers were left no choice but to risk their lives to fight the virus. With exhausted faces, bruises, and creases from masks and goggles, medical personnel on the frontlines fought overcrowded hospitals, lack of equipment, quickly rising cases, and more. As the fourth largest city in the nation with the largest Medical Center in the world, our healthcare professionals and fellow Houstonians were tested in the wake of the Coronavirus to save themselves and others amid this global pandemic.
Join Houston Community Catalyst in partnership with St. Luke’s Health to explore Houston’s response to COVID-19 in TESTED.

#1 Harris County’s Patient Zero

Lt. Chris Hernandez was amongst the thousands to attend the Houston Livestock and Rodeo Barbecue Cook-off. 11 days later, Lt. Hernandez was placed on a ventilator after testing positive for COVID-19.
The Patton Village Police Lieutenant and married father of three felt feverish. He headed up the stairs to take a cold bath. However, as he got to the top of the stairs, he wondered, “what’s wrong with me?” as he gasped for air. He didn’t realize what he was fighting, and he didn’t know he would shut down a city. In episode 1 of TESTED, hear Lt. Hernandez’s story and medical professionals’ response to the beginning of the pandemic and the first confirmed case of community spread in the Greater Houston area.

#2 Evolving Care

When COVID-19 cases started appearing in Harris County, doctors knew nothing about how to fight it. How to determine if a patient actually had Coronavirus and the best way to treat them were only a couple of the questions healthcare professionals had to answer quickly with no information to guide them.
In episode 2 of TESTED, frontline healthcare workers recount the early response to the pandemic.

#3 Innovation On The Fly

Innovation was necessary when the Coronavirus struck the Greater Houston Area. In Episode 3 of TESTED, medical professionals and engineers explain some of the advances they made in order to fight the virus.

#4 Forced Isolation

Isolation and the feeling of being alone have been a hardship on
many families, during the Coronavirus pandemic. Not just for
patients, but for medical professionals as well.

In Episode 4 of TESTED, two nurses talk about feeling disconnected from their support teams, their families and the difficulties that patients’ relatives have not being able to visit their loved ones.

#5 The Advantages Of Interconnectedness

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Houston had one major advantage that most other major cities did not. Our centralized Medical Center with some of the nation’s leading hospitals and health experts.

In Episode 5 of TESTED, we examine the ways hospitals shared
information and opened their lines of communication to fight the

#6 Reaching Houston’s Underserved Communities

Underserved communities have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, seeing higher rates of hospitalization and death while maintaining higher degrees of skepticism about vaccination.
In Episode 6 of TESTED, we see how Houston’s medical community is reaching these vital segments of our population.

#7 Supporting Our Healthcare Heroes

Since the beginning of the pandemic,  Houston’s frontline healthcare
workers have been working tirelessly to keep the rest of us safe and
well. But what about the toll it is taking on them and the mental,
emotional, and spiritual needs of these healthcare heroes?

In Episode 7 of TESTED, we see what measures Houston’s hospital systems have taken to keep their staff strong in the face of an exhausting pandemic.

#8 Unsung Heroes Of The Pandemic Response

It’s been “all hands on deck” within Houston’s medical community
since the early days of the pandemic. It isn’t just the doctors and
nurses who are pitching in to fight COVID-19—so are myriads of
hospital staffers who don’t take part in frontline patient care.

In Episode 8 of TESTED, we introduce viewers to three of the many who are making vital contributions to Houston’s pandemic response.

#9 Basic Healthcare In The Time Of COVID-19

Even during the pandemic, Houston’s medical community had to continue to deliver care for other serious medical issues such as strokes, cancer, those requiring surgery and more. There was also hesitancy among the general population to visit the medical center for regular preventive care.
In Episode 9 of TESTED, we examine the challenges faced by hospital systems as they continue to meet patient needs that are not related to COVID-19, while doing so safely in the COVID-19 environment.

#10 The Road To Recovery

Many who recover from COVID-19 eventually return to normal physically, and some never feel the viruses’ effects in the first place. However, there are those who just can’t shake the symptoms of the virus many months after they first felt them.

In Episode 10 of TESTED, we examine what the road to recovery looks
like for those that have been hospitalized and what the medical
community is doing to address the plight of COVID-19 “longhaulers.”

#11 The Promise Of Vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for use since early 2021. What role have they played in our city’s pandemic response strategy, and what do we know at this point about their effectiveness? Will we need boosters to create greater resilience against the variants?

In Episode 11 of TESTED, vaccine experts Dr. Peter Hotez of the Texas
Children’s Center for Vaccine Development and Dr. Mayar Al Mohajer
of Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center discuss the science, development,
and distribution of vaccines, while also addressing the concerns of
our vaccine-hesitant population.

#12 Planning For Future Pandemics

Over the last two years, healthcare providers have taken on unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the final episode of TESTED, St. Luke’s Health’s CEO, Doug Lawson, Texas Medical Center President, Bill McKeon, and Dr. Eric Boerwinkle of UTHealth Houston discuss the likelihood of future pandemics and how Houston will be better prepared to address future outbreaks.