Med Center sees uptick in COVID-19 patients in ICUs; warns if trend continues, capacity could be exceeded in 2 weeks

ICU bed capacity reaches 'warning' status

HOUSTON – Data collected from the various hospital systems in the Texas Medical Center shows an uptick in the number of Intensive Care admissions of coronavirus patients. This uptick triggered a warning from the medial center that if the current rate of admissions continues, then normal ICU bed capacity could be exceeded in two weeks’ time.

“We’ve seen a pretty steady increase in both admissions and ICU admissions over the past week or so,” said Dr. James McDeavitt, Senior Vice President and Dean of Clinical Affairs for the Baylor College of Medicine. “A day in itself is not alarming. The disturbing thing is it seems to be a little bit more every day. It’s been a very consistent increase.”

Texas Medical Center ICU occupancy trend (KPRC)

The center is showing the number of people admitted to the ICU has been climbing for the past week. If it continues at the current rate, then TMC’s normal capacity of ICU beds could be exceeded in two weeks and so a warning was triggered.

COVID-19 daily new cases (KPRC)

“That’s important for hospital operation. They might have to open up another unit, they’re going to have to look at producing more staffing,” said McDeavitt.

According to TMC data, there are still more than 300 available ICU beds in the medical center. Plus, hospitals in the medical center can nearly double the number of current ICU beds if the need arises. This was a contingency plan put in place at the beginning of the pandemic to see regular hospital rooms converted to intensive care rooms.

Texas Medical Center Total ICU Bed Occupancy (KPRC)

McDeavitt said the increase was not unexpected as more of the city and state reopen. Social distancing helped flatten the curve and Houstonians should continue that practice, McDeavitt said.

“Some are taking it very, very seriously and then I walked into restaurants in Houston where it looked like Friday night, New Year’s Eve, 1999. Nobody wearing masks, chock full, bars full,” said McDeavitt. “We really have to take it seriously and that’s my plea to the community based on the data.”

As KPRC 2 has reported, the CEO of the medical center and the heads of all the major hospitals discuss these numbers daily to make sure their plans stay ahead of any potential surge. In addition to Baylor, we also checked with Methodist and Memorial-Hermann. Both institutions said they have seen a slight uptick in ICU admissions, but they are not close capacity.

To see the data produced by TMC click here.

About the Author:

Award winning investigative journalist who joined KPRC 2 in July 2000. Husband and father of the Master of Disaster and Chaos Gremlin. “I don’t drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee.”