Missouri bed capacity data has been a 'moving target' as hospitals switch platforms, reporting definitions

The Missouri Hospital Association updated its daily dashboard numbers for statewide availability after receiving updated numbers from several hospitals at the end of last week, according to Dave Dillon, vice president of public and media relations for the Missouri Hospital Association.

On Nov. 23, the association's regional COVID-19 dashboard reported 39.71 percent bed availability and 26.29 percent ICU bed availability. There were 3,193 inpatient beds and 442 ICU beds available in the state Nov. 20, according to the dashboard. Hospitals are moving to reporting staffed beds instead of licensed beds or available beds without appropriate staffing.

"These data have been a moving target for the last month, as hospitals have been making this transition, but this release does frame the dire state of ICU and medical-surgical bed capacity in the state," said Mr. Dillon. "What we are seeing now — approximately half of the capacity we reported yesterday — is illustrative of what we have been hearing from the front lines."

He said that ensuring accurate COVID-19 data has been challenging during the pandemic, and hospitals have moved through multiple platforms to understand new reporting expectations. He also said hospitals are experiencing staff shortages due to high healthcare utilization and quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure.

"While this data provides an alarming picture of where we are, it also underscores the need for Missourians to be part of the solution," said Mr. Dillon. "The hospitalization challenges reflect high transmission rates. And, with Thanksgiving this week, we can expect that if Missourians don't take public health precautions seriously, transmission and the need for additional hospital care will soar."

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