Patients forced to wait for beds as COVID-19 cases fill hospitals

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Some data coming in shows a hospital system that's becoming increasingly inundated.

"The COVID situation is definitely stretching our capacity," said Executive Vice President & Chief Innovative Officer, Roberta Schwartz with Houston Methodist.

As the Texas Medical Center is now in Phase Two of its surge, hospitals like Methodist are continuing to add beds and extra staff.

"The key thing everyone wants to know is whether or not this will keep growing," said Schwartz.

Schwartz says they'll get their answer soon, based on people's behavior over the 4th of July.

While they are good with the current rate we're at, there is concern of another increase.

"If we take another jump up from July 4th in about two to three weeks, I do believe demand will somewhat out stretch supply," said Schwartz.

Data shows a system that is already feeling the strain.

The SouthEast Texas Regional Advisory Council or SETRAC tracks bed usage, among other data.

As of Thursday morning, SETRAC said 12 area facilities reported having a total 271 patients waiting to be placed in a hospital bed, 60 of those were ICU beds.

SETRAC's CEO said to have a backlog of people is a significant change and a significant worry. These are all patients, some may have COVID-19, some may not. Houston Methodist Hospital was not among the twelve hospitals, but they are still feeling the pressure.

"It is a challenge. Each day is a challenge to make sure that everyone that comes into the emergency room, gets bedded in a timely manner. I will say thank you so much to the public who has been really understanding," said Schwartz.

In addition, more of the patients in the hospitals are COVID-19 patients.

On June 9, COVID-19 patients made up 7 percent of general beds now its 25 percent. There's also an increase for ICU beds. On June 9, coronavirus patients made up 18 percent of all ICU patients. By July 9, it was 48 percent.

Hospital staff just hopes there isn't an increase in cases, and they promise to do all they can, no matter what.

"We will do the best that we can in every circumstance to meet the needs of our community," said Schwartz.

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