Health Care And Coronavirus: How Prepared Are U.S. Hospitals?

Mar 16, 2020

Are U.S. hospitals prepared for coronavirus? We drill down on the data with public health experts to see what the disparities are and where reinforcements are needed.


Ashish Jha, professor of global health at Harvard School of Public Health. Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. Professor of medicine and practicing  internist at Harvard Medical School. (@ashishkjha)

Rod Hochman, president and CEO of Providence St. Joseph Health, a not-for-profit health system with 51 hospitals in the Western U.S. The first U.S. patient who tested positive for COVID-19 was seen at a Providence St. Joseph hospital — Providence Regional Medical Center — in Everett, Wash., a suburb of Seattle. (@RodHochmanMD)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)

From The Reading List

The New York Times: “U.S. Hospitals Prepare for Coronavirus, With the Worst Still to Come” — “One Seattle-area hospital has already seen patient care delayed by the stringent infection-control practices that the government recommended for suspected coronavirus cases. Another in Chicago switched Thursday morning into ‘surge’ mode, setting up triage tents in its ambulance bay and dedicating an entire floor to coronavirus patients. At least one is already receiving emergency supplies from the federal government’s stockpile.

“With the bow wave of coronavirus infections still to come, hospitals across the country are trying to prepare for a flood of critically ill patients who will strain their capacities like nothing they have seen in at least a generation. Even with some time to prepare, administrators fear they will not be ready.

“Staffing shortages could hinder care if doctors and nurses become infected. There may not be enough ventilators or bed space for a crush of seriously ill patients.”

Politico: Hospitals gird for coronavirus surge after years of cutbacks” — “Hospitals for years have faced economic pressures to cut costs and reduce in-patient treatments as the nation tried to slow down health spending.

“Now the hospital industry is facing a reckoning.

“With a potential surge of coronavirus patients, there may not be enough beds, equipment and staff to handle an epidemic. Executives face tough decisions about who could have to be isolated and, in some cases, need oxygen, ventilators and protective gear that’s already in short supply.

“‘There are parts of the health care system that can be and should be lean but there are public health preparedness efforts that need to be ongoing,’ said Crystal Watson, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.”

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