Jan 4, 2022 - Health

America's health system under pressure from Omicron

Illustration of a wrench holding a red cross

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Parts of the U.S. health system — from testing sites to emergency departments to hospitals — are quickly being overwhelmed by Omicron.

Driving the news: Several states including Ohio, Illinois, Delaware and Maryland have reported record highs for COVID hospitalizations.

Between the lines: The CDC has said that hospitalizations are "comparatively" low, but those hospitalizations can add up when case rates soar.

The big picture: The pressure is affecting multiple points in the health care system, from the emergency departments to in-home care.

  • "We are overwhelmed," read a joint statement from the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians and Massachusetts Emergency Nurses Association, the Boston Globe reported. "Our Emergency Departments are at critical capacity and things will get worse."
  • Meanwhile, home care companies are feeling the strain, increasingly turning down patient referrals from hospitals due to workforce shortages and high patient demand, a trend that accelerated over the last month, said Wes Little, chief analytics officer of WellSky, which provides software for home care companies.

"It's a pretty critical moment for the entire industry to make sure we can continue providing the level of care our hospital partners expect, that payers expect, with an already stretched workforce that is increasingly under pressure," Little told Axios.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Wes Little is chief analytics officer at WellSky, not WellSky Home.

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