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With COVID On The Rise, Hospital Chiefs Not Concerned About Bed Capacity

Back in April, members of the Connecticut National Guard assembled beds in a field hospital at Southern Connecticut State University. It was erected to accommodate regional hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public Radio
Back in April, members of the Connecticut National Guard assembled beds in a field hospital at Southern Connecticut State University. It was erected to accommodate regional hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

Connecticut is entering its second wave of the coronavirus pandemic -- 5,271 new cases and 43 more COVID-related deaths were reported over the weekend. But health care executives want to reassure residents that there are plenty of hospital beds.

Hartford HealthCare has 230 coronavirus patients in beds across its seven regional hospitals, according to Dr. Jeff Cohen, chief clinical operating officer of the state’s largest hospital system. And that’s not close to the situation in the spring, he said.

“In our highest census date throughout the health care system, we had roughly 500 patients who were COVID-positive,” Cohen said. The network’s bed capacity is five times that, he said.

Across all acute-care hospitals statewide, staffed beds number a little under 8,000, according to the Connecticut Hospital Association. Coronavirus and other illnesses are taking up 75% of those beds, while 50% of the state’s 1,000 ICU beds are occupied.

Looking at coronavirus specifically, COVID-19 patients occupy about 11% of beds. That compares with a previous peak in April when they took up 25% of beds.

Cohen says the lower usage of beds is due in part to a change in the virus. “It does appear that the virus has morphed to be, what looks to be more contagious but yet less virulent.”

For Hartford HealthCare’s system, that means a majority of patients don’t require intensive care. In Cohen’s view, fewer infected patients will need hospitalization going forward.

Still, he urges all state residents to be vigilant about safety protocols. “We are much better prepared this time around,” Cohen says, “but if I could just reinforce, please, please, please wear your masks, wash your hands, practice social distancing and do Zoom Thanksgivings.”

Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Ali covers the Naugatuck River Valley for Connecticut Public Radio. Email her at aoshinskie@ctpublic.org and follow her on Twitter at @ahleeoh.

Copyright 2020 Connecticut Public

Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Ali reports on the Naugatuck River Valley with an emphasis on work, economic development, and opportunity in the Valley. Her work has appeared on NPR, Marketplace, and The Hartford Courant.