Gayles Explains Incongruity Between Decline in Hospitalizations and Shortage of Acute Care Bed Space

Although the number of people going to the hospital with COVID-19 is decreasing, patients stay for longer periods of time which helps explain why the acute care bed capacity metric falls behind others. 

Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles discussed this ?? at a county council meeting Tuesday. The three-day average for acute care bed utilization rate is 67 percent in Montgomery County as of Tuesday. Over the last 14 days, there have been only four days when acute care bed capacity was adequate, according to the county’s COVID-19 data dashboard. This is the least successful metric on the board, but the county is seeing improvements in hospitalizations overall. 

Even for residents who go to the hospital with COVID-19 and don’t need critical care, they stay longer than the average patient. So while there has been a significant decrease in the people going to the hospital with COVID-19, they don’t have a quick turnaround and take up acute care bed space in that way, Dr. Gayles said. This explains the metric on the data dashboard. 

“I want to make sure folks at home understand that when we’re saying numbers are improving that doesn’t mean everything is open and we’re ready to go,” Dr. Gayles said.

“It gives a sense of optimism that we’re moving in the right direction, but still to your [Councilmember Craig Rice] point we would want to see a bigger decrease in utilization certainly for the folks going in as well as the folks there being able to come home before we move forward.”

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