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Social Determinants

With COVID-19 patients expected to fill ICU beds to capacity, CEOs should anticipate these questions

Tom Sullivan and Gabriel Perna | March 18, 2020

If you’re the chief executive of a hospital dealing with coronavirus, you are soon going to be asked a lot of questions about capacity.

This is especially going to be pertinent as intensive care unit (ICU) beds fill up fast. According to new analysis from Array Analytics, there will be no ICU beds available in the U.S. by the end of April (see map above), and beds in medical-surgical units will reach full occupancy by mid-May … and this is even if they cancel all elective surgeries.

[Health Evolution to host webcast, Pandemic Response: A Public-Private Call to Action, on April 2, 2020.]

Array says the supply of staffed beds and number of confirmed cases both by states significantly, as does the prevalence of the high-risk demographic aged 65 and over. Using an analysis of available data, Array predicts that Washington will run out of ICU beds by April 1 and Utah, with a younger popular and fewer cases to date, will last until the end of April.

Resource: CEOs, download a table from the model with deadlines by state here, or get the entire model with instructions for generating day-to-day projections by selecting one state at a time here.

“The analysis emphasizes the narrowing window of time left for all states to expand their capacity to care for patients requiring hospitalization. While these numbers may be alarming, they intensify the health care industry’s call for urgent action,” Array says.

The firm says CEOs need to cancel elective surgeries if they have done so. If they don’t cancel them, expect an array of questions from the press—and the public— as to why you haven’t done so already.

Meanwhile, ProPublica is circulating the five more questions that reporters should ask hospital executives about how they are preparing for or mitigating damage from COVID-19, specifically regarding bed capacity. Turning the lens around on ProPublica’s guidance reveals to CEOs the top questions that national, regional and local media outlets would be likely to ask.

Here they are:

1 How many beds does each hospital in your state/region have?

2 How many of those beds are already occupied?

3 How many ICU beds does each hospital in your state/region have?

4 How many of those beds are already occupied?

5 What is your plan to expand capacity?

The last one will be the most important one if you’re a CEO. Along with cancelling elective surgeries, Array recommends CEOs think about leveraging military  facilities and its thousands of medics and how they could provide surge assistance during pandemics. Cleveland Clinic, which has cancelled elective surgeries, has created contingency plans that include setting up 150 beds in a “nearby hotel or, potentially, a field hospital.” These are the strategies that you’ll need to express to the press and the public to lead through this crisis.

Reporters won’t stop there and many of the questions will be determined by your unique situation. But with bed capacity, alongside testing and supplies, among the most pressing issues of the day, ProPublica is suggesting these to local media. So while they seem straightforward enough, stumbling with any of the five could easily make a CEO look unprepared for what’s coming. 

See also: Coronavirus — A CEO’s reading list

 

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