THERE are just 12 Intensive Care Unit beds at Tamworth Hospital.
That number can surge to a maximum of 18 beds, but that's on a busier than normal day without a coronavirus [covid-19] pandemic.
As the virus spreads, most people will only have mild flu-like symptoms.
But the worst-case scenario indicates 15 per cent of patients will become seriously ill and in need of ventilation.
Hunter New England Health chief executive Susan Heyman said the hospital is doing everything it can to increase bed capacity and staff.
"This is going to be a challenge, we are preparing the hospital well," she said.
"One of the reasons we are working so hard with the community is to reduce that demand and make sure we contain this virus so it slows down the amount of people who need ICU."
It's not just ICU beds the hospital management are working to increase.
Medications, equipment like ventilators, consumables and protective equipment for staff all have to be factored in to save lives and reduce risk of infection.
The Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society handed down guidelines that said the pandemic will likely represent an "unprecedented" challenge to intensive care services.
Patients at Tamworth Hospital have been limited to one visitor at a time to reduce the spread of covid-19.
Private hospital offers to take on elective surgeries
Just as staff prepare for a surge in critical patients, Tamara Private Hospital and Armidale Private Hospital have offered to take on elective surgeries to free up more public beds.
Tamworth's Tamara Private Hospital chief executive Debra Maslen said the facility is on standby.
"We are willing and able to perform a range of general, endoscopy, urology, gynaecology, orthopaedic, ENT, dental and ophthalmology cases to lighten the load on Tamworth Regional Referral Hospital as the impact of the coronavirus continues to evolve and develop," she said.
"While we face the unknown in terms of the extent of the impact of COVID-19 in the Tamworth and north-west region, it's vital that health providers work together to deliver the best care and treatment to people within our community."
HNELDH chief executive Susan Heyman said the organisation is considering the offer and that members of the public should remain calm and practise social distancing.
"We're working closely with the private providers to make sure that we optimise the capacity available."