SLO County ICU bed capacity decreases due to staffing

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Local ICU bed capacity in SLO County dropped by 15 available beds on Jan. 11, according to new data released by San Luis Obispo County.

DATA UPDATE SLO County health officials update ICU bed data to reflect available beds in relation to medical staff. - IMAGE COURTESY OF EMERGENCYSLO.ORG
  • IMAGE COURTESY OF EMERGENCYSLO.ORG
  • DATA UPDATE SLO County health officials update ICU bed data to reflect available beds in relation to medical staff.
SLO County Public Health made the adjustment after consulting with local hospitals and changed the number from 53 total licensed ICU beds to 38 licensed and staffed ICU beds. Previous ICU bed data included all licensed beds regardless of whether they could be staffed.

“We are always trying to improve the information we provide to the public in order to help them understand the local situation, and this is part of that effort,” Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein said in a press release. “While at this time the ICU capacity in SLO County is better than in the Southern California Region, our local COVID-19 situation is getting worse, and the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 is higher than it has ever been.”



Of the 38 available and staffed beds, 15 are occupied with individuals, and eight of whom are active COVID-19 cases. Currently, 61 percent of SLO County’s ICU beds are available.

Data also shows that 52 residents with COVID-19 are in the hospital, some of who are being treated at out-of-county hospitals such as Marian Regional Medical Center.

Sara San Juan, a spokesperson for Dignity Health Central Coast, told New Times Marian does have additional beds and are able to care for a greater number of COVID-19 patients due to the size of the facility.

“We are ensuring there are sufficient beds at each of our facilities for patients by redirecting some of them for care,” she said.

During the SLO County Public Health Department’s Jan. 13 media briefing, Borenstein said that state data and data local hospitals are required to report have always included the number of licensed ICU beds.

“But as we really dug down with these folks from the hospitals, we all came to an understanding that this number of staff available or staffed beds that can be stood up in a moment’s notice is really the metric that matters,” Borenstein said. “Because if we don’t have the staff to provide the care, if we have 53 beds then that’s not a real portrayal of the impact to the system.”

The beds at the alternate care site at Cal Poly aren’t currently counted in the county’s ICU or hospital bed numbers, Public Health spokesperson Michelle Shoresman said. Those are a separate number, she said, that the county would activate if the hospital bed and ICU capacity exceeded or was close to exceeding the county’s maximum allowances. The alternate care site isn’t open at this time.

For more information on ICU capacity, visit emergencyslo.org. ∆

—Karen Garcia


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