Data: Jennie Stuart’s COVID-19, ICU numbers grow, despite overall drop in hospitalizations

From Jan. 8 to 14, the percentage of occupied ICU beds at Jennie Stuart was higher than any other time for which data is available.

This story is part of an occasional series from Hoptown Chronicle about how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting Jennie Stuart Medical Center. See more coverage.

Despite a drop in total hospitalizations at Jennie Stuart from Jan. 8 to 14, the average number of patients with COVID-19 and patients being treated in the hospital’s intensive care unit were up from the previous week, according to data released Monday by the federal government.

During the most recent reporting week, the average number of hospitalized adults was 59.4 per day, down from 64.6 the week before, according to capacity totals released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, the average number of COVID-19 patients was up slightly — from 35.6 to 35.9. The average number of ICU patients also increased — from 10.9 to a record high of 11.4.

In an effort to increase transparency at the local level and help the public understand the impact of coronavirus on community hospitals, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last month began releasing hospital capacity statistics. Previously, the data was aggregated at the state level. Hoptown Chronicle is reporting this data each time it’s released to help the community understand the pressure COVID-19 has placed on Hopkinsville’s only medical hospital.

COVID-19 patient ratio, ICU occupancy indicates ‘extreme stress’

Because COVID-19 patients require significantly more resources than typical patients, health experts have determined that the percentage of inpatient beds occupied with individuals who’ve tested positive for coronavirus is an important factor when it comes to measuring the level of strain a health care system is under.

According to research from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, anything more than 20% for the entire hospital and 60% for the ICU indicates “extreme stress.”

From Jan. 8 to 14, Jennie Stuart exceeded both of these thresholds.

The percentage of adult inpatient beds occupied by coronavirus patients remained at a record high of 31%, and the ICU’s COVID-19 patient occupancy grew to 67%, up from 63% the week before.

The ICU’s overall occupancy — including non-COVID patients — was 76%, which is the highest it has been since the beginning of the data reporting period on July 31.

Hospital’s coronavirus patient average sees decline

For the last week — including four days since the federal data reporting period — Jennie Stuart’s average number of coronavirus patients has continued to decline.

As of Monday, there were 23 COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Jennie Stuart. The seven-day average was 26, down from a record high of 41 on Jan. 11.

Because the hospital has declined to release capacity statistics and ICU patient totals, it was not immediately clear how the drop in COVID-19 patient totals has impacted the areas of the hospital where the sickest patients receive treatment.

julia hunter headshot

Julia Hunter | Hoptown Chronicle

Julia Hunter is co-founder and engagement editor of Hoptown Chronicle. She began her journalism career as a reporter and news editor at the Kentucky New Era and now lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where she serves as the membership & communications director for the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. Reach her at julia@hoptownchronicle.org and find her on Twitter at @JuliaMHunter.