VCU Health System requests additional licensed hospital bed capacity to meet anticipated patient surge resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic

Virginia Commonwealth University Health System today submitted letters to the state health commissioner and director of the Virginia Department of Health requesting authorization to expand its licensed capacity by 460 beds. This request is in anticipation that the need for inpatient beds may greatly exceed current capacity as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“We are preparing to save lives,” said Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and VCU Health System. “The health system has devoted significant resources to quantifying the need for acute inpatient services resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are marshaling all of our university and health system resources to prepare to meet the needs of Virginians.” 

The request is being made under the Gov. Ralph Northam’s Executive Order 52 to enable increases in hospital bed capacity in response to the pandemic. The request would permit VCU Health System to take the following actions:

  •  Add up to 150 beds at multiple facilities on VCU Medical Center’s downtown campus
  •  Add up to 180 beds at the VCU Honors College — currently student housing on the university’s Monroe Park Campus that formerly operated as a hospital. VCU Health System anticipates housing non-COVID-19, low acuity patients in this facility
  •  Add up to 130 beds at the former Community Memorial Hospital facility in South Hill, Virginia.   


“We are proactively redeploying key staff and facilities to enable the necessary expansion of our clinical care to be as responsive as we can to this public health crisis,” said Peter Buckley, M.D., interim CEO of VCU Health System. “We are proud of the concerted efforts of all our colleagues to prepare our teams and ready up our facilities. We also are grateful to our community and state leadership for enabling these swift and entirely necessary transitions so we are ready to serve our community through this unprecedented public health challenge.” 

Work already has begun throughout VCU Health System to prepare for the addition of the requested beds.

“VCU Health System is steadfast in its commitment to meet the health care needs of all patients throughout this pandemic,” Rao said. 

Approval by the commissioner to add the requested beds would better equip VCU Health System to confront the pandemic. Nevertheless, this situation continues to develop and VCU Health System will continue to project the health care needs of the community and may need to make additional requests to meet the needs of its inpatient census.