Riverside County will use 100 percent of the hospital’s intensive care unit capacity as of Monday, Dec. 14, a spokesman said, but that doesn’t mean the entire nationwide system is out of beds.
Hospitals are implementing swing plans, including converting other beds into intensive care beds – even though they are not licensed for that use – and eliminating elective surgery, said Jose Arballo Jr., Riverside County public health spokesman.
He wasn’t sure how many hospitals had already stopped elective surgery, but some had done so weeks earlier as the number of cases and hospital admissions went up.
San Bernardino County also had 0% of its capacity left on Monday under the state’s official designation – which does not include available intensive care beds for infants and children and is being adjusted if a disproportionate number of beds are used for COVID-19 patients – spokesman David Wert said. But 10.1% of the county’s total ICU beds are available, up from 11.1% the day before, he said.
Overflow field hospitals prepared during a shutdown at Sears in Riverside and the county fairground in Indio had equipment ready but not yet activated, Arballo said.
“At the moment there are no plans to do that,” Arballo said. “We have the equipment ready when we need it, but we don’t have the staff.”
The 100% capacity figure refers to the number of ICU patients across the country compared to the number of licensed beds, said Shane Reichardt, a spokesman for the Emergency Management Department.
People in some hospitals are using neonatal intensive care or pediatric intensive care units, which must be adapted for adult use and not counted towards ICU capacity, he said.
“We don’t have people in the hallways, but we can repurpose beds for the NICU and PICU – kids’ beds,” said Reichardt.
It’s rare for provincial hospitals to reach 100% of their stated capacity, Reichardt said. Earlier during the pandemic, in July, they were already at full capacity.
He and Arballo did not immediately have the number of IC beds available in the province.
Some hospitals may have overcapacity, while others have a few beds available, Arballo said.
“While the county could be 0% overall, individual hospitals are likely to have capacity,” he said. “You may have one or two hospitals in the upper 90’s or lower than 90 (percentage of IC beds in use).”
The province had 4.3% of the IC beds available from Friday 11 December.
Riverside County had 184 patients in intensive care beds with confirmed COVID-19 cases and an additional seven suspected patients, according to state statistics as of Sunday, the most recent day for which data is available. Statistics include 19 of the 21 facilities in Riverside County.
San Bernardino had a record 264 intensive care patients with confirmed COVID-19 and another five with suspected cases as of Sunday.