Houston hospitals that comprise the world’s largest medical complex stopped reporting key COVID-19 metrics on its website after warning that bed capacity was being pushed to surge levels, according to a report.
Texas Medical Center stopped updating its website for three days, rattling policymakers and residents who relied on the information to gauge the spread of the coronavirus, the Houston Chronicle reports.
The halt came Thusday after hospitals reported their base intensive care capacity was at 100 percent, the paper reported.
There were no updates until around 9 p.m. Saturday, sowing confusion about the hospitals’ ability to handle a massive spike in cases, which followed Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision in May to lift restrictions that slowed the virus, according to the paper.
The paper reported finding that when the charts reappeared, eight of the 17 original slides were deleted — including any reference to hospital capacity or projections of future capacity. The TMC later called that update “incomplete.”
Houston Methodist CEO Dr. Marc Boom told the paper all the figures and projection models were the same but were reformated in an effort to clarify that reaching 100 percent of capacity in an ICU is a moving target, the paper reported.
The system’s ICU bed capacity as of Sunday was at 93 percent down to 72 percent, according to the Chronicle.
“This is just trying to be clear. We want to be as helpful as we possibly can,” Boom told the paper. “Obviously, this got delayed a couple days because it’s complicated — you put 11 or so institutions together all trying to figure out something this complicated and trying to figure out how we express it a little bit more accurately — it took a while, a little longer than any of us would have liked, but simply because it’s complicated. I like what we came up with.”
Harris County’s top elected official Judge Lina Hidalgo expressed concern to KHOU-TV the new format was even more confusing.
“The timing is suspect. I find it very, very problematic,” she told the station. “I said I’m not on board. We do not need to be misleading people. This message ultimately weakens our community’s ability to succeed when the message is being diluted, when the numbers, projections and definitions are being changed halfway through the game, halfway through the battle.”