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Open letter: Ascension Providence, Baylor Scott & White expand ICU bed capacity, establish critical care plans

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Posted at 6:51 PM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-03 19:53:09-04

Ascension Providence and Baylor Scott & White says they have a plan to expand ICU bed capacity and to deal with critical care.

In an open letter, the hospitals said they understand there may be concerns related to future demand for acute care, and the region’s ability to meet these needs.

The hospitals said they have the bed capacity today but are looking ahead and working around the clock to ensure they are ready to manage a potential surge in patient needs.

"We have been continuously evaluating opportunities to build additional capacity in our hospitals in anticipation of future needs related to the treatment of patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Each hospital has a surge plan in place. Possible acuity of patients is just one of the many variables we are looking at, using predictive analytics to project various possible “surge” scenarios. In Waco, both Ascension Providence and Baylor Scott & White - Hillcrest have recently doubled the hospitals’ ICU bed capacity with the capabilities to triple ICU bed capacity, if the need arises. We are diligently working to expand that number, when we need it, but that doesn’t tell the whole story," the open letter said.

The hospitals say this planning involves having the right combination of people, equipment and processes at the ready, and beds are only one part of the equation.

"We are working daily to train and educate our nurses and other clinical staff for future critical care needs, and we are working collaboratively with local, state and national officials to ensure we have the necessary resources to meet the needs of our community throughout all stages of this pandemic," the hospitals said.

Additionally, Ascension Providence and Baylor Scott & White - Hillcrest have developed a strategic pyramid structure plan whereby the full hospital can convert to a critical care unit with 24/7 coverage by in-house critical care physician leaders, if needed, while still maintaining some capacity to provide the daily health care services that are essential to the community’s well-being.

While teams are on the front lines saving lives and behind the scenes equipping and encouraging caregivers each day, hospital leaders are working around the clock to replenish the personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to protect patients and staff.

Surgical masks are available to all staff in patient care areas, the hospitals said.

"To ensure we have adequate resources in the weeks ahead, we have implemented conservation guidelines to safely reuse or extend the use of masks using CDC guidance. Given changes in worldwide demand, supply availability and estimates shift daily. As such, we will continue to pursue alternative options to keep our patients and staff safe."

Ascension Providence and Baylor Scott & White say they need the community’s help to remain healthy so people don’t become infected in the first place.

Everyone should follow “Stay Home” orders, and remember to practice social distancing by maintaining at least six feet between themselves and others, a simple act that will help reduce community spread.