How hospitals in every state are adapting to COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic is overwhelming hospitals, intensive care units (ICUs), and health care workers across America and around the world. In December, the first case of COVID-19 was reported from Wuhan, China. Since then, the virus has quickly spread across continents, with numbers of confirmed cases and deaths rising daily.
On April 2, the total number of cases surpassed 1 million, according to Johns Hopkins, of which more than a quarter-million were in the U.S. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reports the U.S. is approaching the projected April 11 peak, the time when most resources will be needed.
The U.S., as a whole, doesn’t have enough hospital beds to accommodate everyone who will get sick, but the pressure placed on individual hospitals across the country will vary dramatically. Hospitals in major cities and urban communities have been more stressed, given the larger populations they serve—such as in New York, where most U.S. cases have arisen.
In addition, there’s a global shortage of supplies, including protective equipment, basic medical supplies, and testing equipment. There’s also a limited supply of ventilators and specialized staff who can care for extreme cases.
To adapt to the ever-changing situation, some states are building field hospitals or opening previously shuttered centers to help cope with the rise in patients. Hospitals in most states are postponing elective surgeries to free up staff and beds to treat patients with COVID-19, while others are coming up with innovative solutions to deal with the shortage of supplies.
To explore how hospitals are adapting to COVID-19 from state to state, Stacker consulted various reputable news articles and government reports to get a more complete picture, though it's important to note matters are changing daily.
Read on to find out how hospitals in your state are dealing with the health crisis.
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Gov. Kay Ivey relaxed the rules for health care providers, such as allowing recently retired doctors and nurses to get their licenses reinstated more quickly. This means more medical practitioners can help out.
Among the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ efforts to adapt to COVID-19, they’ve increased their telehealth services to allow for more flexible care and to keep people in their homes. They also loosened the rules on the technology required to provide care, so health care workers can assist via FaceTime, for instance.
The director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, Dr. Cara Christ, is trying to find a way to free up hospital beds in anticipation of the onslaught of COVID-19 patients. The state has already asked for resources to open up field hospitals, and Gov. Doug Ducey has called for a 50% increase in hospital beds by the end of April. The military has said they’re ready to convert buildings, like convention centers, into makeshift hospitals.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill on March 28 to create a $173 million COVID-19 fund. Hutchinson can access the fund with approval from legislative leaders.
To increase the health care workforce during the pandemic, California Gov. Gavin Newsom launched the California Health Corps. The new initiative waives some professional licensing and certification requirements during the COVID-19 emergency in order to help California respond to the outbreak.
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The Colorado State Emergency Operations Center is teaming up with local public health organizations and health care facilities to increase the number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds available. They’re moving patients from ICU beds to lower-needs beds, as well as scouting out alternative care sites.
In Connecticut, Yale University and its affiliated medical treatment facilities are working together to shore up resources and equip themselves. For example, the top three floors of the Smilow Cancer Hospital were converted for COVID-19 patients, and researchers from Yale are using models to help figure out how to direct resources to the places that need them the most.
Delaware Gov. John Carney imposed new screening protocols for essential workers. Carney and Delaware Division of Public Health Director Karyl T. Rattay recommend that employees are screened each day for a fever—with a touchless thermometer if possible—and for any symptoms of coronavirus. Anyone with a body temperature of 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit and above must be sent home.
To prepare for the spike in COVID-19-related deaths, all seven Veterans Affairs hospitals in Florida bought mobile morgue trailers. These will offer space to store the deceased when traditional hospital morgues are at capacity.
Hospitals throughout the state of Georgia are expanding their critical-care services throughout in preparation for the coronavirus spike. These actions include creating space for more ICU beds and securing resources like ventilators, masks, and gowns. The state is also getting “medical pods” that can function as a regular hospital in counties that don’t have hospitals or ICU beds.
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