ICU bed shortage in Colorado forcing hospitals to find more space

AURORA, Colorado (KDVR) – Bed capacity in the Colorado ICU has been around 94% for more than a week, past the previous peak of the pandemic.

There are also intensive care units in individual hospitals. The UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital had patients in all 148 beds in the intensive care unit as of Thursday.

Dr. Jean Kutner, chief medical officer, said the situation is having an impact on patient care.

“We have more patients that we need to double the space. We have patients that we keep moving them around the hospital to make sure a patient needs intensive care, then lies in an intensive care bed, ”said Kutner.

Kutner said patients in other areas such as the emergency room may have to wait for ICU beds to open elsewhere.

This is not the first time their hospital has been congested during the pandemic. Kutner said the main difference now is the influx of non-COVID patients.

The University of Colorado Hospital converted another unit to accommodate approximately 30-40 additional ICU patients. Kutner said they could keep adding beds to the available space, but at some point they will run out of staff to care for these patients.

Crisis Standards Enabled for Colorado Hospitals

In response to the shortage of staff and the rise in hospital stays, the state recently issued crisis standards for the supply of hospitals. Kutner said this will allow staff to focus more on the critical parts of patient care and less on the administrative work.

She said in some cases, patients would have to be moved to completely different regions of the state where beds were available.

“In the end, we sometimes look after patients a long way away from their family, their place of residence, because in order to get them a hospital bed we have to move them to another location in the state where there is an open bed,” says Kutner.

According to figures from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Mile High region currently has an availability of 5% intensive care beds, similar to other regions along the Front Range. Southwest Colorado has the highest availability at around 20%.


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