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Multiple Palm Beach County hospitals out of adult ICU beds, according to state data

Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration tracks hospital bed availability statewide
Posted at 6:42 AM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 18:52:23-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — As Palm Beach County sees an uptick in coronavirus cases, the number of intensive care unit beds available in area hospitals is dwindling, according to state data.

Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration tracks the number of hospital beds available statewide.

Right now, the AHCA reports Palm Beach County with about 18% of adult ICU beds available, Martin County with 63%, St. Lucie County with almost 9%, Indian River County at 53%, and Okeechobee County at 12%.

Looking closer at Palm Beach County hospitals, Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, Palms West Hospital, and Wellington Regional Medical Center have zero adult ICU beds available, according to the AHCA data.

However, Alan Poston, a spokesman for Wellington Regional Medical Center, disputed those numbers, saying the hospital has "plenty of beds."

Poston told WPTV's Matt Sczesny the hospital actually has eight adult ICU beds open, and they constructed more ICU-level care rooms which do not seem to be counted by the state.

Ryan Lieber, the public relations manager for the Palm Beach Health Network, which operates Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, released this statement to WPTV:

"As the largest hospital network in Palm Beach County, the number of patients in the ICU’s across our system is manageable, and our critical care bed availability is greater than the Palm Beach County average reported by the Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA). In the event we see a surge of cases that need to be hospitalized, our hospitals have plans in place to continue providing care safely, and include the ability to increase our critical care capacity."

Bethesda Hospital East and West Boca Medical Center have the largest percentage of ICU beds available.

As a whole, Palm Beach County has about 27% of hospital beds available.

Earlier this week, Palm Beach County Emergency Management Director Bill Johnson updated commissioners on the hospital capacity status. Johnson said Palm Beach County is "not in a crisis mode" and a surge plan is in effect.

But if things change, Johnson said, in the first stage of the surge plan, hospitals could discontinue elective surgeries to free up more hospital space. In the second stage, external tents could be set up at hospitals if needed. The third stage would be to use the South Florida Fairgrounds as a field hospital.

County leaders announced the possibility of a field hospital, if needed, back in April. At the time, Palm Beach County had close to 50% of hospital beds available. However, elective surgeries were not taking place at that time.

Johnson also pointed out the average number of patients hospitalized daily with COVID-19 is up since mid-May. On May 18, there was an average of 237 patients hospitalized per day. On June 15, that number was 288.

Palm Beach County has seen almost 1,500 hospitalizations out of more than 9,400 COVID-19 cases.

To see a full list of ICU bed availability at hospitals across the state, click here.