Texas Medical Center reports only 4% uptick in ICU bed use despite continued COVID-19 case increases

Compared to 1,350 total intensive care unit beds in use June 30, the Texas Medical Center has seen only a slight uptick in occupancies since then, with 1,394 reported in use July 9, according to the medical center's public reports.

Those occupancy numbers still mean the TMC is in its Phase 2 surge levels, however, which allocates an additional 373 ICU beds on top of TMC’s Phase 1 base ICU capacity of 1,330 beds, in addition to more staff and equipment.

This comes as the TMC reports an average of 412 new daily COVID-19 hospitalizations in its hospitals across nine counties in the Greater Houston area in the last two days. Compared to the last seven days, COVID-19 admissions have followed a 4.3% daily growth rate.

COVID-19 hospitalizations overall have jumped in the last several days at the medical center, at 2,365 reported July 9, up from 1,747 on June 30, an over 26% increase.

With those hospitalizations, 646 COVID-19 patients are now in the ICU, an 11% increase from June 30 numbers. As of July 9, COVID-19 patients make up 46% of the medical center’s current ICU bed capacity. The remaining 54% make up 748 beds occupied by noncoronavirus patients.

While ICU occupancy is on the rise, so are beds used for general medical/surgical use, TMC data shows. ICU bed usage has maintained a 3.2% average daily growth over the last seven days, while medical/surgical bed use is on a 3.3% rise.

It should be noted these rates have slowed compared to the week of June 30, when the medical center reported a 4% daily growth in occupancy of ICU beds and 6.3% daily growth in occupancy of medical/surgical beds.

At current growth rates, the TMC will not need to enter Phase 3 ICU bed capacity levels until July 22. Such a move would mean further planned utilization of Phase 2 levels of surge capacity to provide additional temporary ICU capacity with 504 more beds.

“This can be managed by appropriately transferring patients from ICU to Medical/Surgical beds and potentially by delaying some procedures,” the TMC wrote on its dashboard slides about the data.

This comes as Gov. Greg Abbott has attempted to free up more beds for future COVID-19 patients by ordering the postponement of all non-medically necessary surgeries in hospitals across more than 100 Texas counties July 9. This is in addition to a previous executive order by Abbott on June 25 that required hospitals only in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties to postpone all non-medically necessary surgeries and procedures unrelated to COVID-19 during the pandemic.
By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.


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