A doctor at Methodist Olive Branch Hospital makes rounds on a non-COVID-19 floor in June.

Methodist Olive Branch Hospital has nearly doubled its ICU bed capacity, according to data from the state health department.

The hospital in Olive Branch, which has run out of ICU beds multiple times in recent weeks, has expanded its facilities from 12 ICU beds to 20.

Across the entire Methodist-LeBonheur hospital system, there were six available ICU beds this morning, according to a spokesperson.

Though patients are often transferred between hospitals within the systems, hospitals within the system can expand their capacities. This is the way Methodist Olive Branch has expanded its ICU bed capacity.

“In addition to being able to share resources across our healthcare system, our individual hospitals have the ability to flex space within their facilities,” a spokesperson for Methodist-LeBonheur said in an email. “This ability to flex bed capacity is based on staffing and availability. It's important to remember that numbers reflected on the state website are a snapshot in time and change throughout the day.”

This comes at a time when health care systems across the entire region are being stretched, sometimes having to delay critical care for patients.

“You can’t clean it up until you turn off the spigot,” State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs at a Tuesday press conference said about the continued surge in cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi from not following safety guidelines like wearing a mask. “We have refused to turn off the spigot… We are just unable to take that simple step.”

Dobbs said that though a vaccine is on the way, now is a critical time for the state, adding that 1000 or more people could die before January.

“Those are people we can save,” he said. “We collectively have put too much stress on (health care workers). It’s our fault.”

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