Feb 27, 2020 - Health

Hospitals have been preparing for coronavirus uptick

Health care workers in Italy preparing for coronavirus cases. Photo: Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

Many U.S. hospitals have been stocking extra supplies and refreshing disaster preparation plans over the past month in the event the coronavirus becomes more prominent domestically.

The big picture: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned this week that this infectious disease could spread more in the U.S., and hospitals have anticipated such scenarios.

Where it stands: The American Hospital Association told its members last week that they "should be prepared for the possible arrival of patients with COVID-19," directing them to use a CDC checklist for coronavirus patients and to monitor protective equipment needs.

  • Shruti Gohil, an infectious disease doctor at the University of California Irvine, said her hospital system and others always have emergency plans for these types of outbreaks and disasters. Their planning ramped up in January after more cases were coming out of China.
  • A spokesperson with the University of California San Francisco health system, which has already treated patients who had the coronavirus, said it has 40 airborne infection isolation rooms and can "adapt additional rooms" if needed.
  • Most large regional systems are working with local and state public health departments on how to screen for potential patients, a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center spokesperson said.

The bottom line: Hospitals handled Ebola and Zika in recent years and have already recorded a busy flu season. Occupancy statistics show hospitals have enough beds to treat coronavirus patients, although preparedness varies by hospital and is more likely to be regimented in urban facilities.

Go deeper

What health care is getting out of the stimulus package

Hospitals stand to gain a lot of money from the stimulus. Photos: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Congress' big stimulus package will provide more than $100 billion and several favorable payment policies to hospitals, doctors and others in the health care system as they grapple with the coronavirus outbreak.

The big picture: Hospitals, including those that treat a lot of rural and low-income patients, are getting the bailout they asked for — and then some.

Go deeperArrowMar 26, 2020 - Health

New Prisma Health device expands ventilator support to four patients

Hospital doctors being instructed to handle a ventilator. Photo: Axel Heimken/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Prisma Health, the largest nonprofit health group in South Carolina, announced Wednesday that it's developed a device that will enable one ventilator to support up to four patients being treated for the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: Ventilators are critical in helping patients in the most severe cases of COVID-19 to breathe. But they're in short supply as demand grows, with the number of coronavirus cases increasing as U.S. testing capacity expands. The virus had killed more than 1,000 people and infected 69,000 others in the U.S. by late Wednesday.

Go deeperArrowMar 26, 2020 - Health

New York ER doctor: "Soon, our hospitals are gonna be overwhelmed" by coronavirus

Dr. Craig Spencer, the director of global health in emergency medicine at New York's Columbia University, said Wednesday on NBC's "Today" that hospitals in the city will soon be "overwhelmed" by the coronavirus outbreak.

What it matters: Spencer, who contracted and survived Ebola in 2014 after treating patients in Guinea, said that it's now "hard to find one or two patients that are not coronavirus" in the emergency room, marking an "absolutely staggering" increase from just last week.

Go deeperArrowMar 25, 2020 - Health