TAMPA, Fla. -- As the state’s numbers increase, ICU bed availability is on the decline, but it’s not all due to COVID-19 cases. Elective procedures are taking up a good portion of that bed space.
“I think about half of the beds right now are elective surgery patients so if we start to clear those beds out, we’ll have more ICU bed capacity,” said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, Distinguished Professor at USF.
Pinellas County only 11.1 percent of their total ICU beds available.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Administration, these are the percentages of available ICU bed space in each Tampa Bay county:
- Citrus County: 17.14%
- Hernando County: 30.16%
- Hillsborough County: 11.86%
- Manatee County: 32.22%
- Pasco County: 15.08%
- Pinellas County: 14.52%
- Polk County: 15.33%
- Sarasota County: 33.93%
“It’s absolutely a concern,” said Dr. Unnasch, in regards to ICU availability in the Tampa Bay area.
BayCare announced they’re going to start limiting non-urgent procedures in Pinellas County in order to free up bed space.
“These elective surgeries are surgeries that people still need to be healthy. So I think the hospitals are going to try to do as many as they can, but I think they’re going to start to try and open up the beds and try to limit this a little bit more,” said Dr. Unnasch.
Dr. Unnasch expects other hospitals will follow suit, but he says the mask mandates several Tampa Bay area counties enacted will likely help.
He says in Hillsborough County, we may already be starting to see the impacts of the mandate.
“It’s just sort of flattening out, and right now I’d be happy just to see it flattening out,” said Dr. Unnasch.
The next few days will be more telling for Hillsborough County, monitoring whether the cases continue to level.
But looking at the state as a whole, it’s a bit of a different story.
“I think there are going to be a lot of places that are really in trouble. Of course, if we’re an island of calm in the middle of the storm, that’s not a good place to be either, because it could easily wash back over us again,” said Dr. Unnasch.
Dr. Unnasch hopes more counties will adopt mask ordinances, all in an effort to not overwhelm our healthcare system.