HealthcareLocal NewsHospital CEOs in Harris County Push Back Against “Unnecessary Alarm” Over ICU Capacity

Although hospitals are having to adapt to the influx of coronavirus patients, CEOs of major Houston-metro hospitals are reassuring the public that hospitalizations are still under control.
June 26, 2020
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After the Texas Medical Center (TMC) in Harris County issued a letter on Wednesday to the community cautioning about the potential for the hospital system to be overwhelmed, CEOs of hospitals in the system released a statement reassuring the public that hospitalizations are still under control.

“We realize that the letter … caused unnecessary alarm,” they stated. “Our intent was to educate Houstonians and not alarm them about capacity, which is not an immediate concern.”

They said that the “pandemic is not eclipsing our capabilities” and that the hospitals have adequate ICU capacity and supplies to continue serving the community.

The statement noted respect for Governor Abbott’s recent executive order restricting non-essential surgeries in a few counties, including Harris County.

However, they added, “It is our hope that the executive order will only be in place for a short period of time, as it is critically important that we continue to meet the health needs of our community.”

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“Each hospital system has prepared for months to address the anticipated needs of this pandemic and has surge plans in place to successfully manage its own capacity to continue treating COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. Additionally, our hospitals are working together to manage capacity levels and ensure the highest quality care for all who need it,” said the CEOs.

Earlier this week, Texas Children’s Hospital in the Houston area began admitting some adult patients to alleviate some of the increased patient load seen at other hospitals in the metro area.

Hospitalizations in the state’s Trauma Service Area (TSA) Q, which includes Harris County, have been on an incline since late May.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), 1,496 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in the region on June 25, representing 11 percent of the total number of beds.

Another 2,070 beds and 161 ICU beds are reportedly still available for patients.

DSHS reports an estimated 18,185 active cases in the health region, meaning the hospitalization rate is about 8 percent.

The number of reported active cases in TSA Q has increased steadily since the virus spread to Texas, but jumped noticeably in mid-June.

The total number of cases has naturally followed a similar trend, with the number of daily new cases reaching several highs in the past few weeks.

Some doctors have pointed out that the recent influx in cases and hospitalizations has been among more younger patients than in earlier surges.

Of the roughly 7,000 patients hospitalized in the TMC, about 74 percent have been discharged, 7 percent have died, and about 1,300 remain hospitalized.

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.