CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – In June and July, hospital beds were scarce. With hospital capacity averaging around 80% in the Lowcountry, healthcare systems say that they are prepared and have learned from the past.
While the high capacity is a concern in terms of staffing, it is not a direct results of the COVID-19 pandemic; the 80% occupancy is not COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) bed-specific.
At Trident Medical Center, a 321-bed hospital, 4 patients are reported to be battling COVID-19 in their ICU. As for Trident Healthcare’s Summerville Medical Center, a 124-bed hospital, they have 2 COVID patients in ICU beds.
The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) said, “25 of 850 beds occupied right now at MUSC are with COVID patients. We stay relatively full this time of year. We have plenty of emergency and high-capacity experience and will open units as needed.”
At Roper St. Francis, there are 29 COVID-19 patients across Roper St. Francis Healthcare, but only 5 of those patients are in ICU beds.
Dr. Mitchell Seigan, a Chief Medical Officer for Roper St. Francis, said during the first surge over the summer, surgeries were suspended twice to assist with bed capacity: once at the request of the governor and again as an internal decision. But with more beds in place, it’s closer to business as usual in terms of capacity.
At this time we are able to run all normal business operations while also taking care of COVID patients so as such, our beds are being occupied with the typical types of patients that would occupy those beds.Dr. Mitchell Seigan, CMO Acute Care Roper St. Francis
Dr. Seigan said with more knowledge of the virus and more treatments available than before, many patients are also being treated in an outpatient setting.
Seigan said, “We’ve learned how to predict which patients are going to have worse outcomes or worse symptoms. We’ve become much better at predicting at which patients would require hospitalization as well as which can be safely treated at home.”
Some of those treatments at Roper include the antibody cocktail Bamlanivimab, produced by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Trident Healthcare also using Bamlanivimab at this time for their outpatient care.
MUSC said overall, “we are in good shape at the moment, but need people to get tested, social distance, wear masks, practice excellent hygiene,, and protect the most vulnerable among us, so that any surge doesn’t overtake us. We know what we need to do, and we need to keep doing it – we’re in the home stretch with vaccines and widespread distribution coming onto the horizon.”
For more on DHEC’s reported Total Bed Occupancy, click here.