Tags: Coronavirus | hospitals | ppe | nurses | testing | new york

How Hospitals Can Prepare for Next Virus Wave

hospital workers in white coats and face masks stand outside the emergency room of a hospital
(Mary Altaffer/AP Photo)

By    |   Tuesday, 16 June 2020 02:20 PM

With several states seeing upticks in the number of coronavirus cases and the amount of those that require hospitalization, a new report seeks to outline how hospitals can avoid becoming too overwhelmed.

ProPublica looked at the situation and concluded that early on — particularly in New York, where around 31,000 people have died of the virus — government leaders were relying on models that ended up being wrong.

"All of those models were based on assumptions, then we were smacked in the face with reality," New York University School of Global Public Health professor Robyn Gershon told ProPublica. "We were working without situational awareness, which is a tenet in disaster preparedness and response. We simply did not have that."

States used models from the private sector, including the Harvard Global Health Institute, and government organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All of them suggested that a certain percentage of people infected with COVID-19 would require hospitalization. But those percentages all ended up being too high. But states started panicking and governors like New York's Andrew Cuomo pleaded for help from the federal government.

What happened next was that as states largely shut down their economies and forced people to remain inside and/or stay separate from each other when venturing out, the numbers started to level off and fall. Hospitals were also able to add additional beds, as ProPublica noted, which helped them prepare for what they thought was a flood of new patients with the virus.

Many hospitals and healthcare facilities erected tents outside their emergency departments in order to triage people who may have the virus. Those efforts helped ease the burden. Another factor that freed up resources was that fewer patients than expected were visiting the doctor for non-coronavirus ailments or having procedures done.

Several states are currently seeing fresh waves of COVID-19 cases and intensive care units are filling up. Experts told ProPublica the following steps can be taken now to help hospitals prepare for what could be a challenging summer and fall:

  • Have virus tests readily available.
  • Stockpile masks, gloves, gowns, face shields, and other forms of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.
  • Provide mental health services for healthcare workers as they deal with the tremendous challenges they're facing.
  • Allow people to visit patients in the hospital.
  • Hire more temporary nurses.

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With several states seeing upticks in the number of coronavirus cases and the amount of those that require hospitalization, a new report seeks to outline how hospitals can avoid becoming too overwhelmed. ProPublica looked at the situation and concluded that early on...
hospitals, ppe, nurses, testing, new york
387
2020-20-16
Tuesday, 16 June 2020 02:20 PM
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