Hospital staffing, rather than beds, more a concern for local leaders

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Three hospitals — Seton Medical Center Round Rock, St. David’s Round Rock, and Baylor, Scott & White Round Rock — were at their ICU bed capacity Friday evening.

By the evening update, two of them added more beds as COVID-19 hospitalizations spike. It shows the flexibility hospitals have to take in more patients, but there’s a limit.

Hospitals can adjust their number of beds according to need. For example, they can move some of their ICU patients to recovery rooms, but staffing ratios are likely to be affected as a result.

That’s where local officials become concerned.

“We’re looking at surges where can we get retired nurses from our community to come back to service for the good of our community, and bring in doctors and nurses from other cities,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler.

Adler and others have pleaded with the community to stay home over the holiday weekend.

He told KXAN Friday this is one of the last moments for the community to determine whether our area will need a pop-up hospital, possibly in just a matter of weeks.

“The alternate care facility in the convention center will be ready to take people early – soon after July 22,” said Adler. “Whether we have to use it or not hasn’t been determined yet.”

When KXAN has asked, the three large healthcare systems — Ascension, St. David’s and Baylor Scott & White — have declined to provide bed numbers at the hospital level.

As of Tuesday, the 2,470 staffed beds within all three healthcare systems were 72% occupied, and the 483 ICU beds were 80% occupied.

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