Concern mounts over ICU beds filling up at IE hospitals

Intensive care unit capacity could soon become a big concern in the Inland Empire.
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Intensive care unit capacity could soon become a big concern in the Inland Empire.

For the second day in a row, San Antonio Regional Hospital in Upland ran out of licensed ICU bed space. While something like that does happen, especially during flu season, a hospital spokesperson says it happening at this rate in the summer is unprecedented.

A good portion of the patients aren't there for the coronavirus, but a maxed out hospital system is something local health officials are worried about.

Monday night, a doctor in Rancho Cucamonga posted a note on Facebook, sharing that hospital beds were filling up, and then added "I am beside myself with the misinformation regarding this virus. Our rights are important... But not wearing a mask is the hill you wish to die on?"

ICU beds in Riverside County are also filling up fast.

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"We have regions, specifically the Coachella Valley and the northwest region, which includes Riverside city and the hospitals here, that are over 100%," said Jose Arballo, Riverside County Public Health spokesperson.

Arballo said one reason ICUs are filling up is that people don't want to go to the hospital, so they're calling 911 much later than they would be normally.

"One of the theories we're working with is that people are coming in sicker, so they're more seriously ill than they would have been previously if they had shortness of breath," Arballo said.

And many of the COVID-19 patients that are now being treated are younger.

"Even though we believe these individuals who are currently being disproportionately affected, this tends to be occurring in more younger individuals, are those who are more likely to weather the storm, they are nevertheless a substantial impact to our hospitalization system," said Riverside County Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser.

Many hospitals that are reaching ICU capacity tend to level off overnight or during slower hours, and in regard to surge capacity, there is still ample room.
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