NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Nashville's hospitals are expanding the number of beds set aside for COVID patients to keep up with the demand.
The number of people admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 keeps hitting new records in Tennessee. The state is now averaging 74 new people hospitalized every day.
To keep up with that demand, hospitals in Nashville are setting up systems for transferring patients, and adding staff to keep up with the influx of patients.
At Thursday's Metro Covid-19 news conference, Dr. Alex Jahangir read the expected release of statistics - how many people have been tested, how many have died, and how many are inpatients.
“222 are now hospitalized in Nashville hospitals with COVID,” Jahangir said.
Only 17% of hospital beds were available Friday, a number below what health department leaders would like.
Beds stay occupied because patients are sicker and stay longer.
“It doesn’t surprise anyone that hospitals are getting full of COVID patients," Jahangir said.
Jahangir said Vanderbilt and St. Thomas had to staff additional COVID units.
"We are really pushing to increase our capacity," he said.
As of Friday, Vanderbilt had 37 COVID inpatients. Spokesperson Kristin Smart said Vanderbilt reached a target number last week and opened a flex unit one floor below the primary COVID unit.
Vanderilt Dr. Todd Rice said the sickest patients are in for long hospital stays.
“Patients are with us for weeks or months instead of days like other respiratory viral illnesses. Patients are with us at least two weeks, sometimes three or four weeks,” Dr. Rice said.
In that time, he said, the staff gets to know the families and the patients, making it that much harder when they lose one.
“We get invested in the patients when they’re in the hospital and we put our time and energy into them. When they die, we all grieve a little bit because we’ve gotten to know that family. And we’ve poured our heart and soul into trying to get them better,” he said.
But when one recovers enough to leave, they all celebrate that success, Dr Rice said.
Skyline hospital said they have been holding steady of the number of COVID positive patients over the last two weeks. As of today, they have 32 inpatients and are “continually monitoring” the situation.
Ascension St. Thomas Hospital said they are expanding capacity by leveraging the Ascension St. Thomas system to facilitate transfers between their sites.
"Our current focus is on ensuring staffing for that additional capacity through a combination of recruiting, short-term contracting and cross training efforts," spokesperson Anjali Sood said.