More hospital beds for coronavirus patients

HOUSTON – In any hospital, in the middle of a pandemic, when people are dying, it takes more than just dedicated doctors and medical staff to save lives.

You have to have an adequate number of ICU beds available to handle a surge in cases.

“The people of Houston should know, they should rest assured that the largest medical city in the world has the capacity today to treat COVID-19 patients,” said Bill McKeon, president and CEO of The Texas Medical Center.

To keep all of us informed about the number of ICU beds available in the Texas Medical Center, Monday the TMC rolled out a brand new graphics page showing how many ICU beds are available right now and how many will be available if the crisis becomes greater and cases continue to grow in the Houston area.

The plan calls for three phases in which the TMC will increase the number of ICU beds.

In phase one, where we are as of Monday, 1,330 ICU beds total exist. But,1,266 of those beds are already occupied by patients.

Officials said 445 of those beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients, the rest are occupied by other seriously ill patients.

But the TMC said it can greatly expand that number of ICU beds.

“We can go far outside the structure of an ICU ward to create ICU capability beds in other areas, in our medical-surgical areas, in our general bed population,” McKeon said.

For example, in stage two of the TMC plan, which could go into effect, McKeon said in as little as two weeks, the Medical Center increases it’s ICU bed count to 1,703 beds and in phase three, that number jumps to 2,207 beds.

“We are entering a time where the positivity rate for the Coronavirus has gone from just 4% two months ago to 20% now. People need to be a lot more careful right now.  Not two weeks from now, not a month from now, right now,” McKeon said.

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