Stanford Health Care operating ‘above 100%’ ICU capacity, able to continue treating urgent cases

Dec. 24, 2020, 3:18 p.m.

Stanford Health Care has exceeded its normal intensive care unit (ICU) capacity as a statewide surge in COVID-19 cases over the holiday season continues, according to the hospital. 

As of Wednesday afternoon, Stanford Health Care had a total of 100 patients in ICU care, including 36 COVID-19 patients, according to Stanford Medicine spokesperson Julie Greicius. 57 additional patients at the hospital are COVID-19 positive but not in critical care.

Hospitals across Santa Clara County are just as strained — 92% of ICU beds in the county were occupied as of Wednesday. On the same day, California surpassed 2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases. California’s case totals have doubled from 1 million in less than six weeks. 

Though the surge has put Stanford Health Care’s staff under severe strain, the hospital has thus far been able to avoid significant disruption to patient care. According to Greicius, Stanford Health Care is currently continuing with “all cases deemed urgent and emergent” and elective procedures that do not require a hospital bed.

“It’s normal for Level 1 Trauma Centers, such as Stanford Health Care, to operate near full ICU capacity,” Greicius wrote in a statement to The Daily. “Our surge plans, developed in collaboration with Santa Clara County Department of Public Health, enable us to manage patient levels above 100% ICU capacity.”

Stanford Medicine has also begun administering COVID-19 vaccines to hospital staff, but had to apologize last week for a controversial, algorithm-based vaccination plan that initially passed over frontline residents and fellows and ignited a raucous protest. Stanford Medicine has since revised the plan and is now relying on department heads to help determine the vaccine allocation.

Stanford University has not issued any updates since early December, when the University announced it was proceeding with plans to welcome frosh, sophomores and new transfers back to campus for winter quarter. According to Greicius, members of Stanford Medicine leadership are among those advising the University on plans for winter quarter.

Contact Daniel Wu at dwu21 ‘at’

Daniel Wu '21 is a Senior Staff Writer for News and Staff Writer for Sports. Contact him at dwu21 'at'

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