ICU capacity is dropping to zero in some places. How hospitals are adapting

At Eisenhower Health, most nurses usually work three shifts per week, but now they’re getting called for up to six shifts a week. That’s according to Dr. Anil Perumbeti, Medical Director of ICU and Pulmonology at Eisenhower Health. Photo by Ethan Kaminsky/Kaminsky Productions.

California Nurses Association members at a press conference this morning alleged that working conditions at hospitals are putting their safety at risk. They’re upset about a state plan that would allow hospitals to increase the nurse to patient ratio. Hospitals are considering relaxing that cap because the COVID-19 has become so dire in Southern California.

Only about 100 ICU beds remain in all of LA County, home to more than 10 million people. Nearby Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties are looking at similar shortages.

Governor Gavin Newsom has activated the state’s “mass fatality” program, ordering 5000 additional body bags and dozens of refrigerated trailers to serve as makeshift morgues to some Southern California counties, including LA. Nearly 300 people died in the state on Tuesday from COVID — a record.

The map below, updated daily, shows ICU bed availability in each county, based on data from the California Department of Public Health. Note that nine counties in the state have no ICU facilities (demarcated in gray). Additionally, several counties that have some ICU bed capacity also have very small populations — including Siskiyou and Mono counties — which can make their per capita ICU rates seem deceptively high.


Credits

Guest:
Dr. Anil Perumbeti - MD, Medical Director of ICU and Pulmonology at Eisenhower Health

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Angie Perrin, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Bennett Purser