Amid the alarming surge in COVID-9 cases, the Austin area hit a pandemic low for ICU bed availability over the weekend. On Sunday, Aug. 15, Sunday, Aug. 15, there was one ICU bed available for the Trauma Service Area O. According to the Texas Department Of State Health Services, TSA O is the trauma service area for the 11-county region surrounding and including Austin. It serves 2.3 million people.
Last week, the available ICU beds were down to two.
As per the records, there are around 200 people in the ICU in the Austin area who have COVID-19. Now, the average of new hospital admissions due to COVID-19 is 79 for seven days.
Because of the unavailability of ICU beds and the short staffing in hospitals, a senior staff physician at Baylor Scott & White is asking people to leave the emergency rooms open for emergencies.
The senior staff physician added: “You would hate to find out that someone’s grandmother died because you were at the ER for a cold, and we’re never gonna tell you that. But our approach to the pandemic as a nation from the beginning has been this – protect the hospital system. Not because hospitals are more important than people, they aren’t, but they are our safety net. If the hospital fails, we are all in trouble, and we are approaching that point right now.”
The senior staff physician also said that some of the emergencies that should be addressed in an emergency room include trouble breathing, chest pains, deep cuts, change in thinking or confusion, going into labor, car wreck, and sudden change in use of arms or legs. This is not an exclusive list, and anything at the same level should be referred to the ER.
The recommendations come as health officials want the emergency room beds available for COVID-related or other severe cases. The availability of ER beds in most of Texas is already in the single digits. It is best to consult primary physician care first or visit urgent care facilities if the ER isn’t the best option to have something checked.