HUDSON, Fla. -- As data from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration showed several Tampa Bay ICUs at low or zero capacity, hospitals and health care systems around the region said plans were in place to address a surge if needed.

What You Need To Know

  • Florida AHCA data showed ten Tampa Bay hospital ICUs at zero capacity Wednesday

  • Hospitals and health systems say plans in place to address surge capacity

  • Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center said taking surge capacity into account, ICU capacity was actually 39% -- not 0%

"I think a lot of hospitals work close or at full capacity a lot of the time," said Dr. Andrew Myers, director of quality for University of South Florida Hospitals. "It would be interesting to look back and see six months or a year ago kind of where we were."

As of Wednesday afternoon, 10 ICUs around Tampa Bay were listed as having zero capacity on AHCA's dashboard. The largest among them were Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center, which has 68 regular ICU beds, according to Senior Vice President Caroline Gay; AdventHealth Tampa, which the dashboard said has a total of 37 adult ICU beds; and Northside Hospital, which has 24 adult ICU beds according to the dashboard.

Tampa General Hospital, one of the largest in the state, was listed as having 1.1 percent of its 90 ICU beds available. The Regional Medical Center at Bayonet Point had 1.67 percent of its 60 ICU beds available, according to data. 

"Hospital bed capacity, including ICUs, and ability to staff these areas are two of Florida hospitals' top priorities at the moment," Crystal Stickle, interim president of the Florida Hospital Association, said in a statement. "While it is common for hospital ICUs to operate near capacity, the greater concern is ensuring adequate staff for these areas."

Myers, who's also the director of TGH's inpatient COVID unit and an assistant professor of internal medicine at USF, said the dashboard numbers may not tell the whole story. For example, he said non-ICU patients sometimes board in the unit.

"These are just patients that are staying in an ICU overnight and then get transferred to their regular floor later," Myers said.

He also noted that most hospitals have plans to handle surge capacity. Gay said with Lakeland Regional's surge capacity taken into account, the hospital actually has 39 percent of its ICU beds available. COVID-19 patients make up about 17 percent of its current ICU patients, and Gay said they haven't had to use more ICU beds than during a typical flu season. 

When it comes to ICU capacity, TGH referred to a previous statement from President and CEO John Couris.

"Tampa General Hospital has experienced an increase in the number of inpatients with COVID-19. However, we are still caring for COVID-19 positive patients and we have capacity for more," the statement read. It also noted that surge capacity is part of every hospital's preparedness plan, and it's something TGH trains for annually.

Hospitals that are part of one of the region's largest health systems, BayCare, are seeing a range of capacity levels on AHCA's dashboard, from 71 percent of Bartow Regional Medical Center's ICU beds available to just more than 3.5 percent of St. Josephs Hospital - South's being open.

A spokesperson said the increase in COVID-19 patients is concerning, but BayCare is prepared to respond by shifting resources where needed.

HCA Healthcare's West Florida Division announced Wednesday it will delay certain inpatient procedures beginning on Saturday, July 11, to free capacity for COVID patients. 

"The number of COVID cases in our hospitals are increasing daily, and we need to ensure that our caregivers and hospitals are in a position to provide safe, effective, and compassionate care to our patients. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, making adjustments as necessary," Dr. Ravi Chari, president of HCA Healthcare West Florida Division, was quoted in a news release.

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