'We don't have any free beds': SJ hospital reaches full capacity as COVID-19 cases surge

A hospital spokesperson says Thanksgiving gatherings are to blame.
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Despite desperate warnings from health officials and pleas from doctors and nurses for people follow coronavirus safety guidelines, one South Bay hospital is totally full, including in their intensive care unit.

"We are at capacity," said Sarah Sherwood, a spokesperson for Regional Medical Center in San Jose.

"We don't have any free beds in the hospital," she said.

It's the first time the hospital has reached capacity during the pandemic.

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That's more than 200 beds with 40-percent of their ICU capacity filled with COVID-19 patients.

While the grim milestone is no surprise, Sherwood says this should be the final warning for people not to gather for the holidays.

"We cannot visit other families and we cannot gather in large gatherings and that's this means, this surge is directly related to Thanksgiving," said Sherwood.

Tuesday afternoon, UCSF nurses held a virtual rally to voice their concerns about stretched resources and unsafe staffing at the hospital.

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As coronavirus cases continue to surge, nurses in Sonoma County are explaining why there's an ICU bed shortage, and what that really means.

"The numbers are increasing day by day, the ED is getting more inundated with patients coming in," said UCSF Nurse Rebecca Arnold, "It's frustrating and terrifying because we've been speaking to this for months."

Sherwood says Regional Medical Center is often the first in the Bay Area to reach capacity because of their specialized emergency room.

So far, every patient is getting the care they need, but they are preparing for things to get worse.

"We are talking about putting up tents and transferring patients out, we haven't had to do that yet and that's because we are treating patients more quickly," said Sherwood.

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There are 15 hospitals in Santa Clara County, each one inching closer to the same situation as San Jose Regional Medical Center. At her last briefing, Dr. Sara Cody said there are only 31 ICU beds left in the entire county.

At UCSF where the numbers are slightly better, nurses are just as worried.

"I've worked on my unit for 16 years, I started there as a new grad, I love the hospital that I work for, I love the people I work with, this is the worst thing I've ever seen since I've been on that unit," said Arnold.

"The mood on the ground is just focused, we know how to do this. We are doing what we need to do and we're not thinking about how we're feeling right now, we're just working really hard to combat the virus," said Sherwood.

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