COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – As coronavirus numbers in the state continue to rise, so is the number of patients in the hospital. In the last 24 hours, the state has seen a 2% increase in the number of hospital beds in use.
Medical professionals and state officials are working behind the scene to prepare alternative hospital sites.
Buildings that will be used to care for patients in case the state sees a drastic decrease in the number of beds available.
Hospital bed capacity refers to the number of patients a hospital can treat. Before COVID-19, South Carolina had about 6,000 hospital beds in the state. Once the virus hit the state, an additional 3,000 beds were identified in the state in case of an uptick.
The South Carolina Hospital Association has an alternative care site plan with the Department of Health Environmental Control which includes those 3,000 additional hospital beds.
The plan is divided into three tiers which would leave patients in need of the most intense treatment in traditional hospital settings. Patients with less urgent treatment need would be cared for in alternative sites.
“A facility that has the ability to care for a lower acuity care patient,” said John Williams of SC Hospital Association. “So an alternative care site can be a tent that was erected, to a medical office building, or a closed facility that used to be a hospital in the past.”
New numbers show that South Carolina’s hospital bed capacity is now more than 70%.
According to the South Carolina Hospital Association, once a hospital reaches 80% capacity that’s when staff will be encouraged to start sending lower acute care patients to alternative sites.