‘We are knocking on the door of critical’: Surge in COVID-19 cases put pressure on hospital ICU capacity

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Less than 7% of intensive care unit beds in Seminole County are currently available, state health officials said Wednesday.

That number is 19% in Orange County, according to the Agency for Healthcare Administration’s website.

But Seminole County medical director Dr. Todd Husty said those numbers don’t tell the whole story.


READ: Florida adds nearly 10,000 more COVID-19 cases since yesterday; Orange County tops 15,000 cases total

“We are knocking on the door of critical,” he said.

Husty said while the numbers reported by the hospitals to the state are accurate and in real-time, they can also be misleading.

“There is more capacity there,” he said. “The question is do you have staff for all the beds? That is getting harder and harder.  Could you increase capacity by changing some things around with contingency plans? So for standard capacity, we are getting close, but there are ways of expanding that.”

Husty said hospitals are designed in such a way that spaces are flexible and expandable. He said hospitals have sufficient supplies of ventilators, monitors and other specialized equipment in order to quickly convert spaces in the hospital to both standard and ICU-level rooms.

READ: What activity is riskiest during age of coronavirus? Health experts weigh in

Orlando Health officials said in a statement that ACHA’s website is not the hospital system’s total bed capacity. Orlando Health said they have 3,300 beds, and nearly 200 of those are ICU beds. They said they have the capacity to surge up to 500 if necessary.

AdventHealth said in a statement that they too have sufficient capacity for patients.  They said they plan to address the rise in cases of COVID-19 and its impact on ICU capacity at a news conference Thursday morning. 

READ: Orange County Public Schools outlines plans for in-class, virtual learning

Husty said besides the numbers, he talks to the hospital workers to get a feel for how they are handling the surge in cases.

“What they are saying is, this surge in numbers is really concerning them,” Husty said. “They can still take care of everybody that needs help, but at what point does it get really painful to do that, where it gets immensely difficult, and we are not that far away from that.”

Jeff Levkulich

Jeff Levkulich, WFTV.com

Jeff Levkulich joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in June 2015.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.