IDPH adjusts hospital bed tracking metric to include staffing levels

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FILE – In this April 20, 2020, file photo, resident physician Leslie Bottrell stands outside a room at an Intensive Care Unit as a nurse suctions the lungs of a COVID-19 patient at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Yonkers, N.Y. A U.S. government report says death rates are 12 times higher for coronavirus patients with chronic illnesses than for others who become infected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report Monday, June 15 highlights the dangers posed by these conditions. They include heart disease, diabetes and chronic lung ailments, such as asthma or emphysema. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — The way that the Illinois Department of Public Health tracks the way COVID-19 is affecting hospital bed usage is changing, per IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

During Monday’s COVID-19 briefing, Ezike said that public officials “wanted to make sure we had a fully accurate picture of how many patients could actually be cared for in hospitals across the state.”

“To do this, we worked with hospitals to… define hospital availability and hospital capacity to appropriately capture staffing capability,” she said.

The surge in coronavirus cases means that, in some cases, healthcare workers themselves aren’t able to come to work, which Ezike said means public health officials cannot just note the number of open beds in a hospital, but rather whether there are enough staffers to tend to a patient occupying the bed, as well.

To capture that data, hospitals are reporting to IDPH the number of beds that are empty and that can be “staffed and ready for patient use in four hours.”

“Similarly, hospital capacity is (measured by) the number of inpatient beds available and in use that the hospital attests can be ready four patient use within four hours,” she said. “Both the availability, and the capacity — which was clear to hospitals now needs to include staffing — are to be reviewed at least daily throughout this pandemic.”

As of Monday, 6,171 people were hospitalized with coronavirus; of those, 1,264 people are in intensive care units and 635 are on ventilators.

Hospital Beds Data
SOURCE: Illinois Department of Public Health
ICU Beds Data
SOURCE: Illinois Department of Public Health

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