Resource Response Brief: Illinois Healthcare Capacity in Preparing for the Peak of COVID-19 Cases by Mid-April

A hospital room at the University of Illinois Hospital at Chicago.

Illinois healthcare systems will need to coordinate statewide in order to the meet resource needs of the still escalating COVID-19 pandemic.  The COVID-19 cases continue to rise throughout the State, with predictive models showing the peak is yet to come.  The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)’s latest update (April 2) estimates that the COVID-19 cases will peak in Illinois between April 17th and April 20th.

In preparing for the surge of cases and people requiring critical care, several models can be used to estimate number of hospital beds and ICU beds needed to adequately take care of Covid-19 cases.  At the peak, Illinois is expected to need 10,994 beds (on April 20th) and 1,687 ICU beds and 1,350 ventilators (on April 17th).  Similarly, the Global Health Institute suggests that Illinois potentially needs over 25,000 hospital beds and close to 5,000 ICU beds in the next 6 months.

A graph charting the need for hospital beds and ICU beds in Illinois during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Our research shows that Illinois has a total of slightly more than 20,000 hospital beds and 3,500 ICU beds.  In Chicago, there are 7,600 hospital beds and 1,500 ICU beds according to a recent Crain’s estimation. At baseline, Illinois’ total occupancy rate is at 55 percent. For Chicago hospitals, the bed occupancy rate is higher, at 62 percent.  This means that 9,444 hospital beds and 1,591 ICU beds remain available for additional COVID patient care in Illinois, and 3,431 hospital beds and 700 ICU beds are available for COVID patient care in Chicago.  To note, the number of beds that we use here is even lower than the number that the Harvard Global Health Institute uses to estimate shortage of healthcare capacity.  See the table below.

As we have been tracking the pandemic through Illinois, the outbreak is not evenly distributed across the State.  Instead, 75 percent of cases are within Cook County and 43 percent of the state’s cases are in Chicago.

The data suggests that a total of 4,705 hospital beds and 722 ICU beds are needed in Chicago.  Compared with available number of beds in Chicago (3,431 hospital beds and 700 ICU beds), Chicago is expected to experience bed shortage at the peak of COVID-19 in mid-April.

While Illinois is expanding hospital bed capacity, including the additional 3,000 beds placed in McCormick Place Convention Center, state-wide centralized coordination and patient triage plans are equally important to consider.  When considering the difficulty of obtaining ICU beds and ventilators, it becomes clear that maximizing existing Illinois’ healthcare utilization to better meet the localized needs will be an effective and important part of the response to the upcoming peak of COVID-19 cases and necessary healthcare.  Perhaps a centralized dashboard that tracks hospital occupancy and triaging incoming patients accordingly will help greatly manage needs and capacity.

About the authors

Sage Kim, PhD, is an associate professor of health policy and administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health.

Timothy Jostrand is a 2019 graduate from the MPH in Health Policy and Administration program at the UIC School of Public Health.

Alyshia Hamm is an MPH in Health Policy and Administration student at the UIC School of Public Health.

Hospital and ICU beds available in Illinois

Projection of Illinois hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators needed during COVID-19

Source: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
Date All Beds ICU Beds Ventilators
March 8 2 1 0
March 9 2 1 0
March 10 15 4 3
March 11 18 4 3
March 12 38 9 7
March 13 51 12 10
March 14 64 15 12
March 15 91 22 17
March 16 115 27 21
March 17 154 36 29
March 18 187 42 33
March 19 258 58 46
March 20 343 75 60
March 21 433 94 75
March 22 603 132 106
March 23 691 149 119
March 24 906 196 156
March 25 1,114 240 192
Mach 26 1,371 296 237
March 27 1,649 353 282
March 28 1,972 416 333
March 29 2,338 490 392
March 30 2,718 556 445
March 31 3,176 652 521
April 1 3,623 728 582
April 2 4,119 815 652
April 3 4,627 903 722
April 4 5,153 992 793
April 5 5,708 1,080 864
April 6 6,227 1,166 933
April 7 6,818 1,249 999
April 8 7,341 1,328 1,063
April 9 7,869 1,402 1,122
April 10 8,372 1,470 1,176
April 11 8,843 1,528 1,223
April 12 9,280 1,579 1,264
April 13 9,672 1,620 1,297
April 14 10,018 1,652 1,322
April 15 10,314 4,674 1,340
April 16 10,556 1,685 1,348
April 17 10,744 1,687 1,350
April 18 10,871 1,680 1,344
April 19 10,939 1,664 1,331
April 20 10,944 1,638 1,311
April 21 10,890 1,604 1,283
April 22 10,781 1,562 1,250
April 23 10,612 1,513 1,210
April 24 10,393 1,458 1,166
April 25 10,127 1,397 1,118
April 26 9,815 1,331 1,064
April 27 9,462 1,260 1,008
April 28 9,074 1,186 949
April 29 8,658 1,111 889
April 30 8,216 1,034 827
May 1 7,755 957 765
May 2 7,282 880 704
May 3 6,800 804 643
May 4 6,314 730 584
May 5 5,833 659 528
May 6 5,362 593 474
May 7 4,898 529 423
May 8 4,449 469 375
May 9 4,019 413 330
May 10 3,611 361 289
May 11 3,228 315 252
May 12 2,868 273 218
May 13 2,535 235 188
May 14 2,227 201 160
May 15 1,946 170 136
May 16 1,694 144 116
May 17 1,463 122 98
May 18 1,259 102 82
May 19 1,078 85 68
May 20 916 70 56
May 21 774 57 46
May 22 651 47 38
May 23 545 38 31
May 24 454 31 25
May 25 376 25 20
May 26 309 20 16
May 27 253 16 13
May 28 206 12 10
May 29 167 10 8
May 30 134 8 6
May 31 107 6 5

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