Texas ranked #1 least prepared state for hospital capacity

We've seen plenty of ups and downs in our hospitals throughout the pandemic. Texas is now in last place in important categories for treating patients, but we want to compare that to how we're faring here in the Houston area.

We have definitely seen our hospitals stretched to capacity, tents even set up outside of hospitals to handle the patient load. Now hospitals across the state of Texas are stretched thin, yet again.

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"Right now, what we found is that Texas is the least prepared state in the nation for hospital capacity. The reason for that is Texas has a very high number of their ICU beds that are already filled up, more than 90%. Then on top of that, there's a low number of physicians and a low number of ICU beds per capita, and there's critical staffing shortages. Twenty-three percent of hospitals in Texas are reporting a critical staffing shortage this week," says Nick VinZant, a senior research analyst with QuoteWizard by LendingTree.

His job is to keep an eye on important statistics that affect insurance companies. He says Texas ranks last place at #50 right now, as the least prepared state to handle the hospital side of COVID.

"It can be everything from people leaving, people having COVID, to just having too many people coming into the hospital," explains VinZant.

It's certainly a big concern for rural areas across the Lone Star State. As far as Houston is concerned, things look more promising. An expert from Memorial Hermann shares reassuring information.

"That is overwhelming to hear about, but I do think we're in a better spot than what that statistic would suggest. We flex very nicely and continue to have capacity to take care of patients and then also the patients that need care for heart attacks or other conditions who need urgent and emergent care. It's been just like, as with any surge, it's very tight but there's a lot kind of weight right and the work that goes into that and we've seen some of the numbers plateau and decrease a little bit, which is encouraging that we're headed in the right direction but still a lot of good work to do. I mean a lot of patients are coming in, but I feel like we're better off than what that number would suggest for sure," reassures Dr. Annamaria Macaluso Davidson with Memorial Hermann.

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Researchers also look at why some states are faring better than others.

"So when we look at states that are more prepared for hospital capacity, these are the states that are more vaccinated and that have a lower number of coronavirus cases. It really is that simple. When we look at ICU bed capacity, specifically, the states that have the most empty ICU beds:  New Jersey, Hawaii, Oregon, New York, California, those are the states that seem better that are dealing with hospital capacity the best right now," says VinZant.

Dr. Macaluso Davidson's advice is to stay updated with COVID vaccines and boosters and the flu shot, as well to help lower the load on hospitals. Don't delay care, if you need it.

"You can feel comfortable knowing that there are extra precautions in place. You're going to be safe when you go and be evaluated with infection control practices. We're cleaning things, staff are wearing masks, and we have rigorous processes behind that. Then also there is space. We're flexing where we need to and making adjustments so that we can care for patients that need that urgent and emergent care and the routine procedures can still be done in a timely manner. Please don't delay, make those calls or come in of course, if you need care," says Dr. Macaluso Davidson. 

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As for other states with a high number of coronavirus and low cases of vaccinations in trouble with hospitalization rates include: Georgia, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona.

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