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Some San Antonio hospitals using pediatric ICU for adults due to hospitals reaching capacity

Dr. Ruth Berggren, an infectious disease expert, discusses how some local hospitals are making more room for patients

San Antonio hospitals are reaching capacity, as 87% of available staffed beds are currently in use.

Hospital capacity has been increasing by 10% a day, Dr. Ruth Berggren said, an infectious disease specialist with the Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio.

“We are trying to use the brick and mortar hospitals that we have as the places to care for people, but it’s requiring that we do things like use pediatric intensive care units for adults, use post surgical care areas as ICU’s and use rehabilitation wards for regular patients to make more room for the COVID(-19) patients,” she said.

Currently, there are 1,074 patients in Bexar County hospitals. Only 13% of staffed hospitals beds are available. On Wednesday, 27% of staffed hospital beds were available.

On Thursday, the percentage drastically changed after local leaders removed South Texas Veterans Health Care System and Brooke Army Medical Center from the calculation.

“They certainly will take patients in our community as they continue to do, but they are not as open as the other facilities. For example, you have to be either a DOD beneficiary or a trauma patient, really, to receive care in our community at BAMC. And similarly so, the VA, you have to be service eligible to receive care there,” Dr. Bryan Alsip said during the city and county’s daily briefing on Wednesday.

Experts have been concerned they might see a shortage in the antiviral drug remdesivir. The drug is among the most promising ones being studied to help fight COVID-19. Early studies have shown it shortens the recovery time for patients.

Much of the supply at local hospitals came from the U.S. government. In early June, the U.S. Department of Health and Human services warned they would run out of supply by the end of the month. Dr. Berggren says San Antonio has also seen that shortage.

“This week we did run out of the drug remdesivir for a while. We’re getting more but we did run out. And that will happen again unless we keep our numbers down,” she said.

San Antonio man says anti-viral drug Remdesivir helped him recover from COVID-19

Hospital officials and local leaders are urging people to stay home and avoid gathering with people outside of their household this July 4 weekend to help slow the surge in hospitalizations.

WATCH: Dr. Berggren talks about Remdesivir shortage in second interview

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