Number of available beds at metro hospitals reaching critical levels

ATLANTA — The number of hospital beds is reaching a critical stage at hospitals in metro Atlanta.

Channel 2′s Justin Wilfon learned that the state of Georgia is seeing a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations. There are 2,300 coronavirus patients hospitalized across the state.

Dr. Danny Branstetter, the Wellstar Director of Infection Prevention, said all Wellstar locations have seen a recent rise in coronavirus patients.

“(I’m) very concerned,” Branstetter said. “I expect that trend to continue unless something is done to break the cycle.”

He said the ICU at Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center is already at or near capacity with COVID-19 patients and victims of violent crime.

“We do have a coupe of facilities that are very tight as far as their ICU capacities,” Brandstetter said. “We do have the ability to extend that at all of our locations as well as staff it.”

Northside Hospital Chief of Staff Dr. Joseph Funk said he’s also seen a rise in the number of younger patients.

“Just yesterday, I probably had ten different case, all of them probably under 50 years of age,” Funk said. “And a couple of those got put on a ventilator.”

Funk says they are not at capacity, but he says he’s concerned that could change soon.

“If we continued with this, we would probably be full within the next month to month-and-a-half. And then we still have measures in place to take it further, for other surges, but at some point, if you continue to do this, you’re just going to run out of resources,” Funk said.

Leaders at several hospitals told Wilfon they believe they will have enough ventilators even if cases continue to rise.

Branstetter believes more people need to practice social distancing and wear masks to reverse the trend.

“We’re still in the first phase, the beginning of it,” Branstetter said. “We flattened it out and slowed down the number of infections. It can be done again. It’s not too late.”

This week, Grady Memorial Hospital reported an increase in the number COVID-19 patients, according to Chief Medical Dr. Robert Jansen.

“The stress it puts on the hospital systems, the medical systems is significant and that is increasing, not decreasing,” Jansen told Channel 2 Action News.

[RELATED: Coronavirus hospitalizations have more than doubled in last 2 weeks]

The number of hospital beds are filling up for trauma patients and those needing long term care, and when you add in those needing treatment for the coronavirus, there's barely enough bed space.

“We’ve tripled that number. Not quite as high as we were in the peak in early, mid-May but we are rapidly approaching that,” Jansen said.

As of Thursday, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency reported 45 percent of emergency room beds are open, 17 percent for ICU beds and the same percentage for in-patient beds.

Jansen said if we take steps to avoid catching the virus by wearing a mask it would free a lot of hospital beds.

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“It’s about being a good citizen. It’s about doing what is right to protect yourself and protect your fellow citizens,” Jansen said.