Will Colorado have enough hospital beds to accommodate coronavirus patients?

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DENVER (KDVR) -- There are 104 hospitals in Colorado with nearly 13,000 licensed hospital beds. But no one from the Colorado Department of Public Heath and Environment to the Colorado Hospital Association is willing to tell FOX31 if that will be enough to absorb the growing number of critical COVID-19 patients.

The reality is, it's impossible to know. But hospitals and state leaders tell FOX31 they are currently assessing how many ICU beds and ventilators the state has and insist they are working to create more bed space.

Worst case scenarios from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest Colorado will see an additional 800 intensive care Unit patients and 2,000 hospitalizations over the course of the pandemic.

That's why state leaders want to "flatten the curve," which is medical lingo for spreading those hospitalizations over months instead of weeks.

The current figure of 13,000 licensed beds might only be enough if the rate of infection drops dramatically. The reality is, not all hospitals are staffed for all of their licensed beds.

Additionally, it's unlikely the state can count on a hospital like Peak View Behavior Health to share one of its 111 beds because it's a psychiatric hospital not an acute hospital. The state probably can't count on Children's Hospital Colorado either, which has 444 beds but just for minors, who mostly haven't been affected by the coronavirus.

FOX31 asked the Colorado Hospital Association how many ICU beds and ventilators the state has and a spokeswoman told us the number is still being calculated as hospitals assess their ability to convert regular beds to ICU beds.

Denver Health Medical Center has 555 licensed beds but city leaders are reluctant to say it will be enough to absorb its share of critical COVID-19 patients.

"I've learned in public health that you never say nothing is possible or something is impossible. I think we're being very successful, very balanced with what we're doing," said Bob McDondald, the executive director of the the Denver Department of Public Health.

When McDonald refers to the word "balanced," he means citywide efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus by closing closing down restaurants and bars (except for delivery and take-out) so hospitals aren't crushed all at once with infected patients.

Already, medical authorities have told Mayor Michael Hancock the city lacks protective face masks for medical workers.

"Right now, we have a critical shortage and so of course right now we're calling the federal government and the state government to get this equipment to Denver as soon as possible," said Hancock, who added Denver needs a massive shipment within the week or, "All of our efforts will come to a screeching halt."

It's not just hospitals that need to come up with more beds and protective face masks. The city of Denver is preparing to come up with temporary housing centers for the homeless and people who may need some level of care but not critical care. Hancock says volunteers needed to treat that population will need masks to protect themselves and those they treat.

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