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Hospital capacity has nothing to do with the number of beds

Posted at 5:26 PM, Nov 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 12:32:40-05

WACO, TX — McLennan County was forced to take a step back when it comes to occupancy at restaurants and shops after the number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital region climbed over 15%.

It's all about the numbers. Hospital staff can only care for so many people, and the building itself can only hold so many patients. But more than that, it comes down to a head count, says University of Mississippi Adjunct Professor Claire Hick.

"You might have a large number of beds for your hospital available. You only have a certain number of beds of people you can serve," she said.

So even if we built hospitals the size of football stadiums, we couldn't properly staff them if everybody got sick.

Imagine laying in a hospital bed and having to take care of yourself. That's not supposed to happen.

”When you only have a certain number of people working in an industry like healthcare, we're a service industry, then you only have that number of people to max out. So when you have higher acuity, which means higher sickness and higher levels of care needed, you only have a certain number of clinical people to serve the patients in your region,” she explained.

If hospitals start to run out of staff, they will start diverting patients so the hospital can maintain a certain standard of care.

”So when an ER goes on diversion or deflects patients on deflection, they are saying, "We have the maximum number of patients we can safely care for,"" said Hick.

So the aim of all these rules? Keep that from happening.