Hospitals are filling up, particularly in intensive care units, according to a recent National Public Radio report.
The organization looked at data released last week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which included reported hospital capacities for 2,200 counties in the country.
NPR found the average hospital is 90 percent occupied.
However, the data was incomplete for Cole County and its two hospitals — St. Mary’s Hospital and Capital Region Medical Center.
The University of Minnesota worked with the federal government to assure the data was accurate before it was published. The university published online maps of the data at carlsonschool.umn.edu/mili-misrc-covid19-tracking-project.
The intensive care unit at St. Mary’s Hospital in Jefferson City filled to capacity last week, said Jessica Royston, SSM Health regional manager of marketing and communication, but the hospital has additional beds that may be used for intensive care should the need arise.
The hospital has had decreasing numbers of COVID-19-related admissions since peaking in mid-November, she said.
CRMC has recently had capacity within its ICU, said Lindsay Huhman, the hospital’s director of public relations and marketing.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services shows each of the two hospitals has 12 licensed ICU beds.
By comparison, Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach and Phelps Health in Rolla each have 18 ICU beds.
The state lists the hospitals that have ICU beds on the DHSS website.
Missouri has 1,810 licensed ICU beds, according to DHSS. In the Central Region, which includes hospitals in Jefferson City, Columbia, Osage Beach and Rolla, there are 92 total ICU beds.
The St. Louis area has by far the most, at 699 beds, distributed among 21 hospitals.
The Kansas City Region and Southwest Region each have a few more than 350 beds.
Both Jefferson City hospitals said ICU numbers are “very fluid” and fluctuate frequently, depending on staffing, discharges, acuteness of patients illnesses and other factors.
Despite COVID-19 numbers decreasing over the past five weeks, staff at St. Mary’s Hospital remain alert in case of a post-Thanksgiving surge.
“We ask everyone to continue to wear a mask, adhere to social distancing and hygiene guidelines, and limit gatherings with those outside your immediate household,” Royston said.
She said St. Mary’s Hospital has specific patient rooms that have ICU capability and may be designated for that use should the need arise. Also, the hospital has hired extra ICU-trained staff in case they are needed in that capacity.
Royston added that agencies that provide temporary nursing resources have already been contacted should they be needed to expand resources.
“As is the case with all hospitals statewide, an inventory has been done of not only the number of traditional ICU ventilators but other ventilator equipment throughout the hospital that could be utilized in the ICU if needed,” Royston said. “We are also coordinating efforts with state agencies to request additional ventilator resources if needed.”
Since the anticipated post-Thanksgiving spike hasn’t happened yet, staff at CRMC hope people heeded warnings to avoid large gatherings.
“We know everyone wants to celebrate the holidays, but we are encouraging physically distanced celebrations and keeping the festivities limited to those you normally have routine contact with,” Huhman said. “While there is a vaccine in the horizon, we must continue to remain vigilant and help protect one another.”