Indiana hospitals starting to fill ICU beds again

After weeks of watching numbers decline, Indiana hospitals are beginning to fill their intensive care unit beds again, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The percentage of available ICU beds across the state has fallen from a high of 52% on July 23 to low 30s in recent days, according to figures provided daily by the Indiana State Department of Health.

On August 4, only 32.3% of Indiana’s 2,192 ICU beds were available. That number has rebounded slightly in recent days, to 38.6% on Monday.

Part of the reason for the falling available capacity is because hospitals deactivated some of their ICU beds, shrinking the inventory. In the early weeks of the pandemic, hospitals were converting whole floors—and in some cases, whole wings of patient towers—to ICU beds.

On April 25, Indiana hospitals had a total ICU capacity of 3,312 beds. But, as of Sunday, that number had fallen by nearly one-third, to 2,265. That occurred as some hospitals quietly put those beds back into general use.

Still, that means that as the number of positive cases of COVID-19 continues to climb, there are fewer beds overall to handle the most serious cases. The number of positive cases across Indiana has spiked in recent days. Over four consecutive days, from Thursday to Sunday, the state health department reported more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 each day, including a record 1,253 cases on Friday.

The health department on Monday reported 673 new COVID-19 cases, ending a four-day streak in which cases have topped 1,000. Case counts typically fall in Monday’s report because of slowed weekend reporting.

The number of overall hospitalizations from COVID-19 has climbed in recent weeks, from a low of 595 on June 26 to 921 on Sunday. Those numbers include positive cases of COVID-19 and patients under investigation for the disease.

Some parts of the state are facing a crunch of ICU beds. Northeast Indiana is nearing capacity, according to WBOI 89.1-FM in Fort Wayne, which reported on Thursday that only 2.2% of ICU beds in that region were available. That part of the state is known as District 3, according to the state health department.

In central Indiana, District 5, 42.5% of ICU beds were available as of the state’s report on Monday, down from a high of 62.7% availability on July 23.

Central Indiana is home to several of the state’s largest hospitals, including Methodist, St. Vincent Indianapolis and Community North, which together have hundreds of ICU beds, more than any other part of Indiana.

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6 thoughts on “Indiana hospitals starting to fill ICU beds again

  1. Its difficult to use numbers here to do the math on actual ICU beds in use but I think it was 48% worst case of available 3312 or1590 and now it is 61% of 2192 or 1337. The total number of beds was reduced over time. If that’s right the actual number of occupied ICU beds has gone down!

  2. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to track the actual number of beds being occupied as the number of beds available is falling due to non use. Using percentages is misleading to the public

  3. We also can’t forget that not everyone who is admitted with COVID needs an ICU bed. At the height of admissions in early April there were ~140 COVID patients admitted to non-ICU beds, ~35 to ICU beds. We need to be tracking TOTAL bed capacity as well. If you rob Peter to pay Paul, Peter has less, in this place less capacity. I will toot my own horn a bit. I am a retired physician-researcher-data-scientist from I.U. School of Medicine. I am the moderator of “Indiana COVID-19 Data Interest Group” on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/633382393935081 .
    This has a boring name because it is meant to focus on available data and is not a place for political attacks. I do share excerpts from occasional articles from such diverse papers as the IndyStar, IBJ, WSJ, and NYT. I will admit that the group tends to be pro-public-health-measures as a means of keeping the economy open for the most people. I am very skeptical of school re-openings. It is an open group and you can browse through all of my graphs and posts w/out joining. So far I have group membership set to “auto” if you request to join.

    1. Mark, thank you for doing this valuable public service. The best medicine for ignorance is knowledge!

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