Georgia spending $72 million to add 296 hospital beds, staff in advance of expected patient surge

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp
Courtesy photo, Gov. Brian Kemp/Facebook

ATLANTA (The Center Square) – Gov. Brian Kemp has announced plans to add 296 hospital beds throughout Georgia as the state prepares for a COVID-19 patient surge.

Eighty-eight new beds will be a part of four temporary medical units, and 208 additional beds at two reopened health-care facilities. The governor’s office said the plan to add hospital beds will cost the state about $72 million, which includes $12 million for additional staff at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany.

Dougherty County, where Albany is located, is among the hardest-hit COVID-19 areas in Georgia. As of Sunday morning, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health, the county had the most deaths in Georgia – 30 deaths – and the second-highest number of confirmed cases – 686 cases – behind Fulton County (962 cases).

DPH said there are 6,647 cases statewide, including 211 deaths. Nearly 1,300 people have been hospitalized.

Albany will be one of the four locations to receive a temporary medical unit. It will have 20 beds. The state also will reopen Phoebe North Campus, where there will be 12 new ICU beds available within the week, 15 general beds and 15 ICU beds by mid-April, and 59 general beds in May, the governor’s office said.

Other temporary medical units will be located in Atlanta (24 beds) and Rome (20 beds). An additional 24-bed unit will be available to deploy based on community needs.

At the reopened HCA Eastside Medical Center in Snellville, there will be a rolling start of 24 ICU beds and 36 general beds within a week, and a rolling start, depending on staff availability, of 30 ICU beds and 17 general beds by late April, the governor’s office said.

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“These projects have been underway for several weeks based on modeling and epidemiological recommendations, and we are following leads on several more proposals to expand health-care capacity as we prepare for patient surge later this month,” Kemp said Saturday.

Updated projections by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations forecasts Georgia will reach its peak for daily COVID-19 deaths on April 25.

IHME, an independent health population research center at the University of Washington Medicine, said its model shows Georgia will reach a high of 96 COVID-19 deaths a day on April 25. It forecasts 3,232 COVID-19 deaths in the state by Aug. 4.

The model shows Georgia will reach a hospital-resource-use peak on April 24, when 10,202 hospital beds are predicted to be needed, including 1,530 intensive care unit beds. IHME says Georgia has 8,322 hospital beds and 589 ICU beds available, resulting in a shortage of 1,880 hospital beds and 941 ICU beds.

“In the days ahead, we will finalize additional projects to expand our capacity and get critically needed resources to frontline medical providers,” Kemp said.

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