Texas Children’s Hospital now admitting adults as other area hospitals prepare to ‘activate surge plans'

HOUSTON – To help create additional capacity for adult hospitals in the Houston area, Texas Children’s Hospital is now admitting adults, a spokesperson said.

Other hospitals in Greater Houston are prepared to “activate surge plans.”

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Texas have more than doubled in the last month, Gov. Greg Abbott said. They have nearly tripled in the Greater Houston area in the same time period.

“Last week it shifted to almost vertical, meaning there’s been a really steep increase in acceleration,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, with the Baylor College of Medicine.

At this rate, Texas Medical Center group hospitals throughout the nine-county Greater Houston area will run out of regular capacity ICU beds in two weeks, according to TMC data.

“There is a limit to the number of hospital beds that we currently have and hospitals are seriously considering activating their surge plans,” Houston Health Authority Dr. David Persse said.

A surge plan is an emergency plan to expand available ICU beds above normal maximum capacities.

Normal ICU bed capacity at TMC hospitals throughout our nine-county area is 1,462. The hospitals can double that, in emergencies, to a total of 2,649 beds.

But only temporarily.

“When challenged with those surge plans, (which) are very resource-intensive, and that’s probably not something they would be able to do for a long period of time,” Persse said.

“All hospitals have contingency plans,” said Dr. James McDeavitt, vice president and dean of clinical affairs at Baylor College of Medicine.

“More beds require more doctors and nurses, so hospitals also have plans to address staff shortages as demands increase, and as some providers inevitably become ill,” he added.

A Memorial Hermann representative confirmed that the hospital has had a surge plan in plan “since March,” and has “dedicated COVID-19 Response Units across our system and those units still have available capacity at this time.”

“But yes, we are concerned,” the rep added. “We are asking the community to please … wear a mask, social distance, frequently wash hands, (and) stay home if sick.”

“Texas Children’s is committed to providing additional capacity through ICU and acute care beds across our hospital campuses to take on both pediatric and adult patients,” a Texas Children’s rep said.