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Judge Hidalgo: Texas Medical Center change in ICU bed capacity reporting is alarming

The leaders of Houston’s major hospitals are assuring the public that there are more than enough hospital beds available, to handle COVID-19 patients -- but Harris County judge Lina Hidalgo says that optimistic tone is not entirely accurate.

The Texas Medical Center released In a statement Sunday, saying the following:

“Yesterday, the Texas Medical center posted an incomplete slide deck in order to allow time to fully develop a number of new slides. The new slides as well as a number of updated slides that were absent yesterday will be released later today. Collectively, they will provide a more comprehensive and accurate description of the current status.”

The new slides do not show much change in hospitalizations though.

The TMC ICU beds are at 93% capacity with 31% of those identified as COVID-19 patients. The new information does reveal that the medical centers have the ability to handle another 877 cases or more if needed.

According to the website, they would be accommodated by moving patients into converted rooms.

What Judge Hidalgo is saying about this

Hidalgo had some tough criticism of TMC’s change in data reporting over the weekend.

She says the recent change in numbers and projections when it comes to hospital ICU bed capacity is alarming and hard to understand for everyone.

When numbers, definitions and projections were changed, more ICU beds were somehow made available, calling it “suspect.”

“I’m still trying to understand what’s this extra capacity that just appeared out of nowhere but in any case since when is it okay to take off general population beds and make them ICU beds?” Judge Hidalgo said.

What TMC CEO said in response to Hidalgo

TMC CEO Bill McKeon did not respond to Judge Hidalgo’s comments, but in an earlier interview with KPRC 2 said their surge plan has been in place for months and the community should know the largest medical city in the world has the capacity to treat COVID 19 patients.

“So we wanted to make sure that when people saw 94 or 100% of our base capacity we wanted to make sure they understood our ability to flex and flex even further as this pandemic continues,” McKeon said.

Both Hidalgo and McKeon have both said the main focus needs to be on people staying home and staying safe and doing what they can to further stop the spread of the virus so we don’t have to worry about ICU bed capacity.