Several Williamson County hospitals approach ICU bed capacity

Investigations

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Williamson County ICU beds are at 87% capacity, according to numbers obtained by KXAN.

The numbers, updated Monday evening, come from a county that has far fewer COVID-19 cases than Travis and Hays counties.

Here is the breakdown:

  • St. David’s Georgetown Hospital reported that 12 of its 16 ICU beds (75%) were occupied.
  • St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center reported that 16 of its 17 ICU beds (94.12%) were occupied.
  • Seton Medical Center Williamson reported that 18 of its 19 ICU beds (94.74%) were occupied.
  • Baylor Scott & White in Round Rock reported 21 of its 24 ICU beds (87.5%) were occupied.
  • Cedar Park Medical Center reported that 18 of its 21 ICU beds (85.71%) were occupied.

The numbers provide the first look at any bed occupancy at the hospital level in our area.

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.

Last week, the three healthcare systems reported their ICU beds were 70% occupied.

KXAN’s investigative team has been pressing for more transparency from hospitals and local governments about bed numbers, as hospital admissions in Texas continue to spike.

Austin Public Health has been resistant to release specifics as well, but also has battled for more consistent capacity information from local hospitals.

“Publicly, we do not share which hospitals are at capacity, because there is constant shifting and we want the hospitals to have the freedom to move resources as needed,” said Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott in a statement Tuesday.  

“The cooperation we have with our hospital partners is remarkable, and even across the systems, they are sharing information and resources. We have a commitment from all three major hospital systems that if one system runs out of ventilators the other system will either send them to them or accept those patients into their facilities.”

Projecting hospital capacity

This is the latest in our investigative team’s push for transparency about hospital capacity.

Even healthcare experts say they don’t get to see numbers at the hospital, but one group is working to project bed capacity in the absence of those numbers.

“It’s really hard to get the data,” said David Muhlestein, Chief Strategy Officer with Leavitt Partners. “Very few states make that regularly available.”

Leavitt has created a “COVID-19 Burden Index,” a searchable projection model for hospital bed capacity at the national, state, metro area, county and even hospital level.

It takes county COVID-19 case data from Johns Hopkins and factors two dozen variables such as county-level demographics and where people historically go for care.

“We’re looking at the transmission rates that are occurring within each market and say, if we continue along this pathway, what would happen going forward?” Muhlestein told us.

Based on the current rate of hospitalizations, and incorporating more general use beds for COVID-19 patients, Leavitt’s model projects Dell Seton Medical Center to run out of ICU beds Wednesday and its total number of beds on July 11.

The model projects St. David’s Medical Center to run out of ICU beds Tuesday and all hospital beds on July 12.

Keep in mind the model is based on the current rate of hospitalizations, and is subject to change every day.

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