Mar 19, 2020 - Health

Patients will bear the burden of hospitals' coronavirus preparation

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Trump administration is urging hospitals to postpone elective surgeries to make room for coronavirus patients — and hospitals do need to free up more beds.

Yes, but: It's worth remembering that "elective" is a broad term, and these decisions — even if they're the right ones — will have real consequences for real patients.

Case in point: NBC News published a heart-wrenching story last night about a patient who needs a liver transplant, but whose transplant surgery — scheduled for later this month — was canceled amid concerns about the coronavirus.

  • To preserve beds in their intensive care units, some hospitals are only performing transplant surgeries for the patients most at risk of death, NBC reports.
  • Prolonging even more routine procedures — like knee replacements or dental procedures — may be difficult for some patients, even if it's ultimately safer for them and the community as a whole.

What they're saying: This plan "will not only preserve equipment, but it also allows doctors and nurses to help those that are on the front lines, and it will protect patients from unnecessary exposure to the virus," CMS administrator Seema Verma said Wednesday.

Go deeper: Pence asks hospitals to delay elective procedures amid coronavirus pressure

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Quorum Health files for bankruptcy

Quorum Health is in dire straits. Photo: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Quorum Health, the chain of small community hospitals spun out by Community Health Systems, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and secured $300 million to keep operations going throughout the process.

The bottom line: Quorum said none of its 23 hospitals will close, and employees will be paid and available to provide care during the coronavirus pandemic. But the company, which has been crushed by debt and was nearly bought out by one of its private equity owners, will remain in a precarious financial position even once it emerges from bankruptcy.

We're still behind on coronavirus testing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Coronavirus testing capacity is still lagging far enough behind demand that the U.S. continues to only test the sickest patients — a bad omen for future efforts to return to normal life.

Why it matters: Diagnostic testing is the cornerstone of any containment strategy. To even begin talking about resuming social and economic activity, we would have to get testing right first.

Go deeperArrowApr 7, 2020 - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates: Chicago jail is largest-known source of coronavirus

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Chicago's Cook County jail is the largest-known source of coronavirus infections in the U.S., the New York Times reports. The White House has identified Chicago's metro area as a risk for exponential growth of the virus.

Why it matters: Public health officials have warned this would be a particularly deadly week for America, even as New York began to see declining trends of hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health