TOMBALL – With the growing number of coronavirus crisis, medical managers are scrambling to secure more hospital beds.
That hunt is underway in Harris and surrounding counties, as officials brace for the worst. City and county officials have been working for weeks to identify buildings and facilities that could be converted to hospital space.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Wednesday the city is currently negotiating with two local hotels for 180 quarantine rooms.
"We are negotiating and in conversations with several hotels in the city to lease necessary space for first responders, city employees, and other people in our city, like the homeless population who cannot self-quarantine," Turner said.
But even more beds are likely to be needed.
In the 25 county region that includes Harris County, there are just over 18,325 hospital beds available with an additional 4,063 surge beds.
But in this crisis, those may not even be enough. Surveys are underway to identify more space for coronavirus patients.
Darrell Pile, the CEO of the Southeast Regional Advisory Council, a quasi-governmental nonprofit, is tasked with emergency medical preparedness for the region.
"We've not received a goal number of how many extra beds to create," he said. "We are going for a lot of extra beds. We're looking at facilities currently closed to reopen them. We're looking at nursing homes to see if there is extra capacity there. We're looking at motels. We're looking at surgery centers that may not be operating right now."
One property under consideration includes the former Triumphant hospital in Tomball and several stand-alone emergency centers that are now out of business.
"We've been asked to prepare, open other facilities within the next two weeks," Pile said.
Health officials are also keeping a close count of respirators available to treat coronavirus patients.
Ninety area hospitals reported having more than 800 adult respirators and 300 pediatric respirators as of Monday. But, nearly 70% of those machines are already in use.
The city and county will likely have to request more from the federal government through FEMA.