City of Austin develops surge plan in case hospitals are overwhelmed

Austin-Travis County officials have announced that they are preparing a network of emergency backup medical facilities, or Alternative Care Sites (ACS), in case regular services are overwhelmed by a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, and Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott are planning to hold a virtual news conference at 2 p.m. to explain the surge plan in greater detail. FOX 7 Austin will carry it live here and on our FOX 7 Austin Facebook page.

The surge plan is designed to address additional patient care needs should COVID-19 infections result in an overcapacity of the hospital system, according to officials with the City of Austin.


“We hope that this surge plan is not necessary, but we are preparing for the worst,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “We must continue to stay home and practice physical distancing. The future of our healthcare system is up to our daily individual behavior, and it is going to take all of us to fight this virus.”

Under the surge plan, once traditional hospitals have run out of bed spaces, patients would be transferred to Type II Alternative Care Sites and receive a range of hospital-level care in buildings that were previously purposed for patient care such as former clinics or medical facilities.

If Type II ACS exceeds capacity, patients would be taken to Type I ACS facilities, which are similar to combat surgical hospitals or large wards. Officials are in the process of identifying specific sites for both types of ACS facilities in Austin-Travis County that will meet the community’s needs.

The current hospital bed count for Austin-Travis County is approximately 4,300 on an average day. However, this number will continuously change depending on additional capacity coming online.

Isolation Facilities and Protective Lodging Facilities (ProLodges) have also been established. Isolation Facilities are locations that are being used to house patients who do not need medical care but do not have anywhere to safely be isolated from the public (e.g. are unable to adequately isolate from a family member’s home). ProLodges are protective lodging for vulnerable communities.

A section of the city's website has been updated to include surge plans for the area, information about the Austin-Travis County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and the different task forces to support medical and social service community needs.



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