ICU total occupancy in Houston-area hospitals could be surpassed as soon as Thursday, data shows

Local hospitals feel strain as surge of coronavirus patients fill beds and case count continues to rise

HOUSTON – Intensive Care Units at hospitals throughout the Houston area could surpass total occupancy as soon as Thursday, according to data released by the Texas Medical Center. 

Data released Wednesday placed the ICU occupancy percentage at 97% of which 27% are COVID-19 patients. 

The current growth trajectory for coronavirus in the Houston area suggests ICU surge capacity could be exceeded within the next two weeks. 

Doctors issued an urgent plea Wednesday for residents to practice preventive measures in hopes of slowing the surge rate, lessening the potential burden on healthcare workers statewide. 

What is surge capacity? 

After an ICU reaches its capacity, a hospital will use other spaces to house ICU patients. That’s considered a “sustained surge,” which takes into account the potential for overflow. Hospitals statewide have planned to handle that, if necessary. 

An “unsustained surge” is what area leaders do not want to see, although current TMC projections suggest area hospitals will reach that point within the next two weeks. 

An unsustained surge means a hospital no longer has space in-house for ICU patients, meaning patients could be housed elsewhere. 

Officials Wednesday stressed the importance of masks, social distancing, and limited exposure to others as a means to flatten the curve. 

Texas Medical Center (KPRC)
Texas Medical Center (KPRC)
Texas Medical Center (KPRC)

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Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. NOLA born and bred, though #HoustonStrong, with stops in Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in along the way.