Montgomery County hospitals near capacity as coronavirus hospitalizations rise

A rise in serious COVID-19 infections has put many Montgomery County hospitals near capacity as health officials brace for more hospitalizations from the Thanksgiving holiday.

All but two of the county's hospitals have reached capacity so far, according to health officials. Many have begun canceling elective surgery and most have needed to divert patients from their emergency rooms during the last several days.

"The majority of our hospitals have had to care for patients in the emergency department for substantial periods of time because there were no other staffed beds available in the hospital," Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Dr. Valerie Arkoosh said during a Wednesday afternoon conference.


On Wednesday, the county announced nearly 400 new infections among residents. Montgomery county's latest data shows that 362 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. Just a month ago, only 82 hospital beds in the county were occupied by coronavirus patients.

Likewise, the number of people in need of a ventilator has steadily increased since November. The county's data shows record-high 43 people are currently on a ventilator.

(Photo by U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

"We are very concerned about what's going to happen in a week, 10 days, two weeks from now," Arkoosh said. "Secretary Levine has very consistently shared modeling that has suggested that it is possible that all intensive care unit beds in Pennsylvania could be filled by the middle of December."

Pennsylvania, like many states in the country, has experienced new cases rise by the thousands each day. The health department says nearly 700 adult ICU beds are filled across the state and 1,555 of Pennsylvania's cache of 5,200 ventilators are in use.

Meanwhile, Arksoosh says she is "cautiously hopeful" that Montgomery County can continue to see cases plateau so hospitals can maintain manageable numbers, but she urged the community to continue taking actions to reduce the spread of the virus.

Pennsylvania reported its highest one day total in COVID-19 cases Thursday.

“We have seen that a number of counties in Pennsylvania have only a few intensive care unit beds left or no intensive care beds left in their counties,” Dr. Rachel Levine said.

Dr. Levine added just short of 5,000 residents are hospitalized for COVID-19 with more than 1,000 in intensive care.


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