During the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, admissions to hospital intensive care units (ICUs) surged, exerting unprecedented stress on ICU resources and operations. The novelty of the highly infectious coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) required significant changes to the way critically ill patients were managed. Houston Methodist's incident command center team navigated this health crisis by ramping up its bed capacity, streamlining treatment algorithms, and optimizing ICU staffing while ensuring adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and other ICU essentials. A tele-critical-care program and its infrastructure were deployed to meet the demands of the pandemic. Community hospitals played a vital role in creating a collaborative ecosystem for the treatment and referral of critically ill patients. Overall, the healthcare industry's response to COVID-19 forced ICUs to become more efficient and dynamic, with improved patient safety and better resource utilization. This article provides an experiential account of Houston Methodist's response to the pandemic and discusses the resulting impact on the function of ICUs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-42
Number of pages12
JournalMethodist DeBakey cardiovascular journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021


  • bed capacity
  • burnout
  • COVID-19
  • critical care
  • ICU
  • pandemic response
  • PPE
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • staffing
  • tele-critical care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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