NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -  The number six has taken on a grave meaning at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The hospital confirmed to News4 Investigates that they only have six beds remaining in their COVID unit.

As of Tuesday night, 68 patients were sick in the unit with 74 beds in total.

“We have the capacity to continue to create additional COVID beds if needed. However, this places additional strain on the adult hospital,” said John Howser, communications director at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Howser continued to write that they could borrow beds from ICU, but that would obviously mean those suffering from other illnesses and injuries would have fewer beds.

“When a hospital is closed to being completely full, especially in this type of situation, it concerns us,” said Dr. Gill Wright, a member of the metro coronavirus task force.

“Do you think this is the wake-up call – when people hear this premiere hospital COVID unit is almost at capacity?” asked News4 Investigates.

“That’s very much a concern for us that Vanderbilt is becoming essentially full,” Wright said.

Wright said another warning sign from Vanderbilt would be if they decide to stop elective surgeries.

“I think that would be the first thing we would see them stop doing. And that would make me really concerned, because not only are they very near capacity, they don’t have any ability to flex any further than they already have,” Wright said.

News4 Investigates asked every hospital in Davidson County to report how many beds they have left in their own COVID units or wings and are awaiting those numbers.

Currently, the state of Tennessee reports that the city of Nashville has 12 percent bed space available in ICUs.

But in hospitals like Vanderbilt, the ICU is separate from the COVID unit.

Wright also points out that serious illnesses like COVID could take patients ten to two weeks to recover, which means those bed spaces may not empty anytime soon.

“We have to try to gauge that and adjust prior to that happening, so we don’t overload the hospitals,” Wright said.

As for the other hospitals in the city, a spokeswoman for Metro General tells News4 Investigates they have eleven beds left in their COVID unit.

A spokeswoman for St. Thomas West and St. Thomas Midtown said they have a total of twelve beds empty in their COVID units and seven beds remaining in their ICU, where they also have dedicated beds for COVID patients.

A spokeswoman for HCA said they would not be releasing their bed space numbers and did not respond to our follow up questions for an explanation as to why not.

That HCA spokeswoman only said that they have enough beds to handle their COVID patients.

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Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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