Texas Medical Center hospitals move into Phase 2 surge as ICU patients increase

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As hospitalizations increase, the Texas Medical Center has entered into a new phase in responding to the COVID spike.

Although hospitals say there's a bed for you if you get sick, the big concern is what might happen if people don't take their warning seriously about the Fourth of July weekend.

"If we stay on the current trajectory, we're going to run into problems with capacity," said Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Turner is raising concerns as hospitalizations rise.

Now, the medical center reports it is in Phase 2 of its ICU surge. It has three phases.

Phase 1 is the base capacity, with 1,330 ICU beds available.

After that number is reached, it goes to Phase 2, which is what the TMC reached on Tuesday, meaning they have either added or converted other beds into ICU beds.

In Phase 2, there's an additional 373 beds available.

"They are busy. They are saying that they still have room to surge within their respective hospitals, with the exception for the Harris Health Hospitals, LBJ and Ben Taub, they are pretty much at maximum capacity," said Turner.

While hospitals say they have capacity, the upcoming Fourth of July weekend is a concern.

Dr. Bela Patel with Memorial Hermann said if people don't take precautions, it could lead to more cases and strain the system.

"The virus has really spread very diffusely in our community, and we want to actually make sure we don't help accelerate the viral spread," said Patel.

She is encouraging people who celebrate the holiday to make some modifications.

"We want people to modify what they normally do, just to make sure that they are social distancing, that they are keeping at least six feet apart from other individuals that are not part of their immediate family members," said Patel.

Patel said it takes two to three weeks to see results, so if we do see a spike in cases from the Fourth of July weekend, we should know by the end of the month.

Texas Children's Hospital is also encouraging people to celebrate with care.

They sent the following statement in regards to the holiday weekend:

Our leadership team is continuously assessing our capacity and managing our staffing plan accordingly. Comprehensive surge plans are in place, and we have the ability to expand our capacity, open even more beds, and increase our staffing to care for the patients in need. If the number of COVID-19 patients continues to increase, so will our capacity.

"I want to reassure the community that Texas Children's currently has capacity, including beds, supplies, PPE, and staff to continue caring for both COVID-19 positive and negative patients. If a patient requires a higher level of care - whether they have COVID-19 or not - we are currently able to meet that need," Mark A. Wallace, President and CEO at Texas Children's Hospital, says. "I also want to commend the compassion and dedication of our clinical teams whose selfless devotion to our mission and caring for our patients is inspiring. I am committed to supporting and caring for our amazing team members, and one of my highest priorities is doing what is needed to keep them safe and healthy."

As we enter the Fourth of July holiday weekend, we thank everyone for celebrating with care this year, as we see COVID-19 cases on the rise. We encourage all Texans to always wear a mask when leaving home, wash your hands often and maintain social distance, or even better, stay at home. This is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and your fellow Texans -including our health care workers. As Texans, looking out for each other is what we do and right now that neighborly Texan spirit is needed more than ever.

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