Insider News: April 2, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, hospitals around the country are preparing for a surge in cases expected to arrive by mid-April. Learn more about this projected peak and what Massachusetts is doing to support hospital staff and expand their numbers.

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Demand for hospital beds in U.S. will peak by mid-April, analysis finds

The demand for hospital beds in the U.S. is projected to exceed capacity by the second week of April, according to an analysis from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle. The study presents estimates of predicted health service utilization and deaths due to COVID-19 for each state in the U.S. if social distancing measures are maintained. Here are five takeaways from the study:

  1. Excess demand for hospital beds and intensive care unit beds will peak in the U.S. in the second week of April.
  2. Using a statistical model, the researchers predict excess demand will be 64,175 total hospital beds and 17,309 ICU beds at the peak of COVID-19.
  3. There will be an estimated 81,114 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 over the next four months, and there will be more than 2,300 deaths daily by the second week of April.
  4. While peak demand will occur at the national level in the second week of April, this varies by state. About a third of states, including New York, will hit peak capacity in the first half of April.
  5. "Demand for health services rapidly increases in the last week of March and first 2 weeks of April and then slowly declines through the rest of April and May, with demand continuing well into June," according to the study.

Frontline physician describes concerns and preparedness measures at Massachusetts General Hospital

In an interview with CommonWealth Magazine, Dr. Jarone Lee, a frontline critical care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, provided a look into how MGH is responding to the coronavirus crisis.

Insights include:

  • While the bulk of patients are older and have underlying medical conditions, hospitals are also seeing people younger than 60 without existing risk factors in the ICU, and more men are becoming seriously ill than women.
  • Regarding experimental or unproven treatments, a treatment team of multiple experts considers all options to try and help COVID-19 patients whose condition is declining.
  • At the moment the hospital has enough staff, but are preparing for the surge by teaching ICU-level care to doctors and nurses who typically work in other departments.
  • Concerns about sufficient PPE continue, including shortages of gowns, eye protection, and the critical N95 masks used in high-risk procedures on coronavirus patients.
  • Testing is now more available, though depending on the test results can take up to a week.

Massachusetts recruits retired medical personnel in anticipation of increasing coronavirus cases

Governor Charlie Baker is calling for retired doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists to come back to work in an effort to maintain the staff needed to treat new cases of COVID-19.

Hospital staff around the state are working long hours, increasing their risk of testing positive for the disease and being required to self-isolate.  Other efforts to support and relieve hospital staff include:

  • Issuing emergency temporary licenses to doctors in good standing who don't have an active licence in MA
  • An online registration system for public health, health care, and emergency response volunteers at
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