Texas Medical Center Removes ICU Capacity Data As COVID Cases Surge

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - MARCH 18: Texas Governor Greg Abbott displays COVID-19 test collection vials as he addresses the media during a press conference held at Arlington Emergency Management on March 18, 2020 in Arlingto... ARLINGTON, TEXAS - MARCH 18: Texas Governor Greg Abbott displays COVID-19 test collection vials as he addresses the media during a press conference held at Arlington Emergency Management on March 18, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. Abbott announced that Arlington health officials received 2,500 testing kits so all residents and workers at the Texas Masonic Retirement Home, the retirement home where COVID-19 victim Patrick James lived with his wife, will be tested for the virus. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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June 29, 2020 9:24 a.m.

For more than three days, Texas Medical Center hospitals had stopped publishing key data after an earlier update seemed to indicate its hospitals were reaching 100% base intensive care capacity, the Houston Chronicle reported on Sunday. 

The Medical Center had posted detailed charts on the capacity of their facilities amid the coronavirus pandemic almost daily before the three-day hiatus, raising concerns about the hospitals’ preparedness to handle the massive spike in cases seen across the state in recent weeks.

The absence of the data threw policymakers off balance and left residents who have relied on the information to gauge the spread of the coronavirus feeling vulnerable.

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The move comes after the hospitals announced on Thursday that their base intensive care capacity had hit 100 percent for the first time during the pandemic and was projected to hit an “unsustainable surge capacity” of intensive care beds by July 6, the Chronicle reported.

By Friday morning, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo moved the county to the highest threat level, citing that the hospitalization rate was “on pace to overwhelm the hospitals in the near future.”

According to the Chronicle, the data was finally revised on Sunday to include most of the original information as well as some additional slides.

Houston Methodist CEO Dr. Marc Boom offered reassurance that all the figures and projection models remained the same — but that the data had been reformatted. TMC hospitals have a combined 373 beds that can be made into ICU beds with a “challenging” but “doable” amount of effort, Boom said.

The changes illuminate increasing concerns over hospital capacity as positive cases surge and Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) moved to reissue on Thursday an earlier order to restrict elective procedures at some hospitals to ensure more beds would be vacant to accommodate an influx in COVID-19 patients.

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