COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – The number of hospital beds in use in the state is slowly increasing as the state sees more and more cases of COVID-19.
Medical professionals and state officials have been keeping an eye on the number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus and the percent of COVID-19 tests administered that have come back positive. Now, officials are shifting their attention to another number; hospital bed capacity.
Since the first cases of the coronavirus in South Carolina, a team of medical professionals have been working on alternative hospital sites to treat the rising number of patients.
An additional 3,000 hospital beds have been identified.
“We have anywhere between 9,000-10,000 beds currently, if we had to expand during an uptick in cases,” said John Williams,
Those 3,000 beds are part of the state’s alternative care site plan, which would reserve hospital beds for patients in need of the most intense treatment. Lower acute patients would be placed in converted settings like an office building or hotel.
Williams continued, ” What you don’t want is for a hospital to not be able to care for the communities they serve, so it’s a way for hospitals to decompress.”
The South Carolina Hospital Association says once a hospital has 80% of its beds in use, the alternative site plan will come into play.
So far, patients have not had to be placed in external care; however, medical professionals are concerned about possible increases in hospital bed use for reasons not related to COVID-19.
“Hurricane season mixed with flu, mixed with a potential with a mandatory medical evacuation. All that gives me angst,” added Williams.
New numbers show South Carolina’s hospital bed capacity on Tuesday was 71%.
The state is still seeing more patients in the hospital for issues not related to COVID-19.