Hendrick CEO: Only 1 ICU bed available in all of Big Country

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — Hendrick Health System says there is only one available ICU bed in the entire Big Country.

In a statement issued Wednesday night, Brad Holland, president and CEO for Hendrick Health says 50 percent of ICU patients at Hendrick Medical Center, Hendrick Medical Center South and Hendrick Medical Center Brownwood were COVID-19 positive.

While the numbers from the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) that are released on Thursday will say there are two available ICU beds in the Big Country, those numbers will reflect a previously-reported vacant bed that has since been occupied.

The only vacant ICU bed in the 19 hospitals in our Trauma Service Area at time of publishing is at Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital in Sweetwater.

The full statement from Hendrick reads as follows:

We have received numerous questions about the hospital’s current COVID-19 census percentages that were reported Monday and how they compare to the percentages Gov. Abbott refers to for Trauma Service Areas (TSA). Since Lubbock, Amarillo and El Paso breached their COVID-19 capacity thresholds, the TSA percentages have received a great deal of attention.

The healthcare facilities in Abilene and the Big Country fall into the TSA-D designation. If our COVID-19 TSA threshold of 15 percent were to be breached for seven consecutive days, it would trigger a State action, such as a reduction in business capacity or the cancellation of elective surgeries. 

The numbers we have been historically referencing are numbers specific to Hendrick Medical Center. However, since the acquisition of Hendrick Medical Center South and Hendrick Medical Center Brownwood, the majority of staffed ICU beds in TSA-D are now at a Hendrick Health facility. 

 Additional TSA-D facts:

– TSA-D includes 19 healthcare facilities (see chart below).

– According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) COVID-19 website, TSA-D has 875 total available hospital beds.

– The 875 number is the denominator number used by the State to calculate the 15 percent use threshold of beds for COVID-19 patients.

Unfortunately, that denominator number (875) is not applicable to reflect our community status. The number includes hundreds of “hospital” beds in healthcare facilities that, in actuality, do not have the staff or equipment necessary to care for COVID patients, or are not acute-care hospital beds (i.e.: psychiatric and rehab hospital beds).

Hendrick is most concerned about the number of available ICU beds.

The reality is that Hendrick manages 95 percent of the ICU beds in TSA-D. Other facilities in our TSA-D region are not equipped for this higher level of care and may not even have staffed ICU beds. (The number of available ICU beds for TSA-D is posted on the TDSHS website and updated daily.) 

Thursday you will see Wednesday’s data, which will show that only two ICU beds are available for the entire 22-county Big Country region – one in Sweetwater and one at Hendrick Medical Center. At the time of this release, Hendrick Medical Center did not have an open bed in the ICU, and 50 percent of ICU patients at Hendrick Medical Center, Hendrick Medical Center South and Hendrick Medical Center Brownwood were COVID-19 positive.

It’s also very important to note that Hendrick Health’s ICU beds are not only used for COVID-19 patients. They are also used for critically ill heart, neurological and trauma patients requiring the highest level of care. Prior to the pandemic, Hendrick Medical Center’s ICU was already at or near capacity. This was one of the many factors that were evaluated in the recent acquisition, and we look forward to expanding access to these specialized services. 

In order to keep our community healthy and make sure we can continue caring for our Big Country residents, we are asking the community to support our caregivers and hospitals by mask wearing, maintaining six-feet of physical distance, practicing good hand hygiene, avoiding touching your face and avoiding unnecessary gatherings.


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