ICU Bed Capacity Remains a Concern in Montgomery County

Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles.

Earlier this week, four of the six hospitals in Montgomery County were at maximum capacity for ICU beds, County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles said at a virtual council meeting Thursday.

As of this morning, only two are at capacity and more beds are becoming available.

“Those numbers are moving in the right direction but still a ways to go,” Gayles said. ICU bed capacity is still a concern for the county. 

The county discussed the issue of hospital surge capacity over a call with the state on Tuesday. Gayles said they spoke about possibly repurposing what was formerly the Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park for additional ICU beds. Doing this, Gayles said, would provide more space if ICU needs increase and lower the percentage of beds being used. Gayles emphasized that current positive data does not mean he or the county is making any declarations. 

“[I’m] merely just suggesting the data is moving in a direction so that we can entertain some of those conversations and discuss how to safely move forward and what that looks like,” he said. 

ICU bed capacity is an important measure in reopening Montgomery County. Before considering reopening, officials are looking at metrics including sustained, 14-day decreases in the following: the number of new cases during increased testing, hospitalization rate, ICU rate, deaths and COVID-19 related healthcare visits. 

On May 13, Gov. Larry Hogan announced that Maryland would lift its Stay at Home order and begin Stage One of reopening and recovery. However, he allowed counties to make separate decisions if they felt their jurisdiction was not ready. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich signed an executive order on May 15 to maintain a Stay at Home order for the county. 

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Maryam Shahzad

About Maryam Shahzad

Maryam is a reporter with Montgomery Community Media. She graduated from the University of Maryland in December with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism. Previously, she was an intern with MCM. Maryam loves visual media and always says the movie is better than the book. She can be reached at mshahzad@mymcmedia.org or on Twitter @maryam_mcm.

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