BRAZOS COUNTY, TX — In a tweet sent out Friday by the Texas Department of State Health Services, the pandemic has never been worse in Texas, and it has never been easier to catch COVID-19 in the state.
This statement holding true in Bryan-College Station, as ICU bed occupancy numbers are exceeding 100%.
“So, when you do see the numbers, which ICU capacity is well over 100% of what we have available, that’s reflecting pretty well what we are seeing the hospital,” says Jason R. McKnight MD, MS a Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Primary Care and Population Health TAMU
According to the Texas Tribune, Bryan-College Station is one of three regions that are completely out of designated ICU beds…
“In these cases, where we are above 100%, or 31% above that 100%, these folks are being placed in rooms that now have to be outfitted with temporary types of support systems that would not otherwise be in those rooms,” says College Station Mayor, Karl Mooney.
While intensive care units are not solely COVID-19 patients, the Brazos County Health District, nor the Texas Department of State Health Services report the number of COVID-19 patients in the ICU.
Dr. McKnight, who has been treating COVID-19 patients, says the majority are COVID patients.
“I can tell you walking through the ICU, a large number of patients are absolutely COVID patients. When you compare ICU usage today versus one year ago, the demand is just greatly increased and I think we can blame the majority of that on COVID,” says Dr. McKnight.
Brazos County Health District has had reported only two days, where ICU occupancy was under 100% for this month, the last day being Jan 6. when it was reported to be at 96%. Dr. McKnight says there really no telling when we could see less ICU occupancy.
“So the ICU capacity that you see right now, those numbers are going to stay that way for at least another week, or two, even if we make drastic changes today because the critical illness tends to kind of follow anywhere from 1, to 3 weeks,” says Dr. McKnight.
Health professionals, and city leaders, reminding the community that our local hospitals are not just caring for sick Brazos County residents, but those all throughout the Brazos Valley.
“Some of our outlining counties here in the Brazos Valley don't have any hospital, so we are seeing focus from those areas coming to the hospitals here in College Station,” says Mayor Mooney.
25 News reached out to the local hospitals for a comment. CHI St. Joseph providing the following:
St. Joseph Health is busy, as is usual, especially at this time of year; however, we continue to remain stable and able to care for all patients needing hospital-level care. Our ICU capacity fluctuates on a constant basis throughout the day. Reports that we are at or above capacity do not indicate that we do not have the resources to care for our community. Should the situation continue to escalate, St. Joseph Health has a surge plan in place to ensure care is provided for those who require hospital-level care.
In this critical time, we must work together to preserve space in our hospitals. The best way to do this is to follow public health guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Please remember this simple prescription: Don’t Share Your Air. Wear a mask, social distance, and get the COVID-19 vaccine when It is available to you.
Baylor Scott and White Health providing the following:
For months, our health system has prepared to address the anticipated needs of this pandemic and has surge plans in place to successfully manage capacity to continue treating both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.
Our hospitalization rate – including the number of patients being treated in our intensive care unit (ICU) – is higher today than it has been at any other point in the pandemic. We have enacted the first phase of our surge plans to accommodate patients who are in need of intensive care.
To accommodate patients who are in need of intensive care, our surge plan includes the utilization of all available patient care space within our College Station hospital. For example, when we needed additional intensive care beds, we use our surgical recovery beds as additional intensive care beds.
If the current surge continues and our ICU occupancy rate continues to increase, our medical center may not be able to meet the demand for non-COVID healthcare needs. We can avoid this if we change course now.
To continue ensuring that our hospitals are ready for those who need care most during this time, we ask that the public embrace a sense of urgency in following the recommended guidelines of physical distancing, masking and practicing good hand hygiene. We know these safety measures can be difficult, but they are proven measures to stop the spread of the virus.
The safety and well-being of our community starts with each member and the decisions we each make. Each member of the community has a role to play in preventing hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions while protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our communities.
Baylor Scott & White will continue to do what it takes to meet the healthcare needs of our community.