Surge Capacity Strategies

Articles, blogs, and reports about health workforce capacity issues and strategies.

(09/23/20) Community Health Workers and Covid-19 — Addressing Social Determinants of Health in Times of Crisis and Beyond
This perspective piece published in the New England Journal of Medicine promotes investing in the community health workforce as a means to help confront systemic racism and social determinants of health in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Integrating community health workers into existing health systems can promote better patient advocacy among providers and help improve and maintain better health outcomes in the communities they serve.

Primary Care & COVID-19:
(09/22/20) Week 20 Survey
(08/27/20) Week 19 Survey

A frequent primary care survey about COVID-19 from the Primary Care Collaborative and the Larry A. Green Center. The goal of this project is to assess primary care’s ability to evaluate and manage patients during the COVID-19 pandemic and to consider policy implications going forward.

(09/22/20) Tyson Plant That Had Major COVID-19 Outbreak Works With Clinic to Get Health Care Nearby
Meat packing plants have consistently been cited as a major concern for outbreaks of COVID-19. In response to this concern, Tyson has partnered with medical clinics that will open exclusively for employees of these meatpacking facilities.

(09/22/20) With Limited COVID-19 Vaccine Doses, Who Would Get Them First?
As vaccine production continues, conversations about establishing priority for distribution are leading to questions about who can be considered a front-line health worker. With an expected limited initial supply of the vaccine, answering these questions is essential to protecting the health care system.

(09/22/20) Primary Care Has Not Fully Bounced Back, According to New Survey
A new survey released by the Primary Care Collaborative has found that more than eight in ten primary care clinicians disagree with the notion that primary care has recovered from COVID-19 related reductions in services. A majority of clinicians have reported working longer hours with reduced capacity compared to pre-pandemic.

(09/20/20) Advances In ICU Care Are Saving More Patients Who Have COVID-19
This story from NPR highlights how innovative changes to the intensive care unit in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are working to save lives. As doctors across the world learn more about best practices in ICUs, these practices are being replicated and mortality is decreasing.

(09/17/20) The First Look at the US Government’s COVID-19 Vaccine ‘Playbook’
This article introduces the government’s plan for COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The plan includes multiple phases for who will be eligible to receive the vaccine, with healthcare workers, the elderly and high risk, and essential workers taking top priority.

(09/17/20) Black Women Turn to Midwives to Avoid COVID and ‘Feel Cared For’
Maternal mortality among Black women in the United States is a major cause for concern. As the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these inequalities, the demand for midwives in performing out-of-hospital births has gained traction as an effective and potentially safer alternative.

(09/16/20) The Human Touch — Addressing Health Care’s Workforce Problem Amid the Pandemic
As the health workforce continues to struggle to meet the needs of the pandemic, projections suggest that the pandemic will continue into 2021. This perspective piece furthers the conversation about the need for organized aid from volunteers, med students, retired physicians, and more to fill the gaps in the workforce.

(09/15/20) COVID Exodus Fills Vacation Towns With New Medical Pressures
An article from Kaiser Health News discussing a unique issue posed on medical centers in what would otherwise be major tourist destinations: major influxes of affluent individuals seeking to escape large cities, leading to high demand for services atypical to the area.

(09/14/20) The Key to Efficient Vaccine Distribution: Start Preparing Early
An opinion piece published in STAT suggesting some strategic moves to prepare for the vaccine distribution needed to meet the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors suggest guidance and coordination from federal, state, and local public health officials and ensuring priority is given to highest risk individuals, including the elderly, frontline health care providers, and first responders.

(09/02/20) During the Vietnam War, These Physician-Scientists Were Called ‘Yellow Berets.’ They Are What We Need to Fight COVID-19
An opinion piece published in STAT discussing the use of physician-scientists during the Vietnam War and the benefit of having a physician who can treat patients and quickly transition to studying disease in the laboratory. The National Institutes of Health Associates Training Program enabled recent graduate physicians to receive multi-year extensive clinical research training, and the author advocates for boosting this program again to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

(08/30/20) Hawaii’s Hospitals are in Urgent Need of Nurses to Tackle a Surge in COVID-19 Cases
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are on the rise in Hawaii and nurses are in short supply, leading to concerns about a problem that continues to worsen. Many of the employee representative organizations within Hawaii are collaborating to bring more nurses and other health care workers to Hawaii to help deal with the surge.

(08/28/20) New York City Nervously Braces for Another ‘Explosive Spread’
New York City was the epicenter of COVID-19 cases as the pandemic first reached the United States. Although the spread of COVID-19 has been kept under control for months, fears of another large surge in cases are leading hospitals in the city to stockpile personal protective equipment and make other preparations.

(08/26/20) Preparations for Second Surge of Coronavirus Underway
This article covers some of the preparations being made in hospitals across Massachusetts ahead of an anticipated second surge of COVID-19 cases. Stockpiling personal protective equipment, standardizing protocols, and improving staffing are all aims of this preparation effort.

(08/18/20) ICU Capacity is More About the Clinicians Than the Number of Beds
This opinion piece featured in STAT discusses the reality behind intensive care unit capacity in the United States health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic. As many health professionals in ICU settings are in critical roles treating COVID-19 patients, many are being asked to work overtime for months on end and experiencing burnout at high rates, leading to fears of worse care quality.

(08/17/20) Nurse Practitioner COVID-19 Survey
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners has released the results of a survey of nurse practitioners conducted between July 28 and August 9. Important data captured includes delays in getting patient results of COVID-19 tests, increases in nurse practitioners testing positive for COVID-19, and opinions on the regulatory and licensure flexibility many states are employing.

(08/14/20) FDA Creates First-ever Medical Supply Shortage List Including Masks, Swabs, and Ventilators
As questions of maintaining hospital capacity continue, the Food and Drug Administration has created a list of all medical supplies used to treat COVID-19 that are experiencing shortages. This first-ever list will help determine the capacity and safety of treating patients for many health professionals.

(08/11/20) 26 States Will Soon Face Shortages of ICU Doctors
Researchers at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health found that twenty six states will soon face shortages in health care workers needed to treat patients with COVID-19. There are projected shortages this month in doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and pharmacists.

(08/10/2020) COVID-19 is Elevating New Type of Executive: Chief Medical Officer
Health systems are now more at risk of losing their CMOs as companies seek expert health advice during the pandemic, reports The Wall Street Journal.

(08/07/20) Expanding Our Health Force Can Save Lives and Create Jobs Simultaneously
This opinion piece discusses how Connecticut and Massachusetts effectively controlled the spread of COVID-19 within their states and implemented community-based strategies that enabled this control to continue while creating jobs and preserving capacity within the health care system.

(08/07/20) Coronavirus Cases Are Surging. The Contact Tracing Workforce Is Not
This article/podcast examines the fact that the US contact tracing workforce continues to fall short of projected need. NPR’s recent survey of all 50 states, completed in collaboration with John Hopkins Center for Health Security, found the national workforce has not grown significantly since mid June.

(08/06/20) As Clinicians Are Redeployed for Covid-19, Onboarding Takes on Extra Importance                          An article that looks at the challenges of onboarding clinicians during the pandemic. Some Problems include: addressing fear and anxiety, clarifying procedures for delivering care, and relationship building.

(08/03/20) Nearly Half of Low-income Communities Have No ICU Beds in Their Area
An article covering a recent study published in Health Affairs which shows that nearly half of low-income communities in the United States have no intensive care unit beds. With COVID-19 threatening the critical care capacity of most of the nation, this could lead to significant issues dealing with surge capacity throughout the United States.

(08/03/20) The Pandemic is Boosting the Public’s View of Doctors
An article discussing how recent surveys show that the public support for physicians has improved significantly compared to pre-pandemic levels. Higher appreciation for health care workers is associated with better morale and may help recruit more health care workers in the future.

(08/03/20) Address the Nurse Shortage in 2020 and Beyond: 5 Key Takeaways for Hospital Leaders
An article from Beckers Hospital Review discussing how COVID-19 has exacerbated an already short supply of nurses throughout the United States. Some strategies discussed to improve the situation include focusing on career advancement opportunities and flexible scheduling, as well as competitive compensation packages.

(07/31/20) The Nursing Science Behind Nurses as Coronavirus Hospital Heroes
An article discussing the need for more nurse scientists and nursing educators as a solution to the perceived nurse shortage seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses provide a significant amount of care to patients, especially in intensive care unit settings.

(07/30/20) The Critical Care Workforce and COVID-19: A State-by-State Analysis
An issue brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation researching the capacity of the critical care workforce to treat COVID-19 patients, presented in a state-by-state format. Intensivists and critical care nurses, as well as second-line physicians such as hospitalists, pulmonologists, and anesthesiologists are considered instrumental in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

(07/28/20) Coronavirus in Florida: Interactive Map Shows Hospital ICU Bed Capacity
The State of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration has released an interactive map to show the hospital ICU bed capacity for every county in Florida. This interactive map will be updated daily.

(07/28/20) 11 States at Risk of Straining Interventionist Supply Amid COVID-19, Estimator Finds
An article discussing the current status of health workforce supply in many states hit hardest by COVID-19. The Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity at George Washington University’s State Hospital Workforce Deficit Estimator tool is forecasting shortfalls in states such as Texas and Arizona, and risk of shortfalls in states such as Florida, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, among others.

(07/27/20) Village Versus Virus: Rural Ethos Protects Where Public Health Fails
A blog post from two faculty members at Dartmouth College published in Health Affairs discussing the impact of COVID-19 on rural health systems in Vermont and New Hampshire. Rural hospitals, facing increased financial pressure, have closed in many cases, requiring innovative and inclusive ways to ensure rural communities are safe and able to treat COVID-19 infections.

(07/25/20) Houston, Miami, Other Cities Face Mounting Health Care Worker Shortages as Infections Climb
As infections are on the rise in many of the largest cities in the United States, experts fear that shortages in health care workers will contribute not just to increased patient deaths from COVID-19, but also increased risk to everyone else in the hospital, patients and health workers alike.

(07/24/20) Primary Care Remains Weakened in Fight Against COVID-19
New data from the Larry A Green Center shows that nearly 90% of respondents are facing significant difficulties in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Respondents also reported difficulties obtaining medical supplies, meeting the needs of their patients, and meeting financial needs to continue operations.

(07/21/20) Are We Prepared for the Next Health Crisis? Maybe
An opinion piece from the dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health covering the warning of vulnerability of the United States to a pandemic that came in years prior, and strategies to build a strong, robust public health system to respond to the current and any future pandemic.

(07/20/20) South Carolina Hospitals Face Down COVID Surge
An article discussing the efforts multiple health systems in South Carolina are using to meet the surge of COVID-19 cases in their state. While personal protective equipment is mostly available, issues with the health workforce becoming infected outside of work and financial struggles are bringing hospitals to the brink.

(07/18/20) With 4 in 5 Texans Living in a “Red Zone,” Coronavirus Hot Spots Are Moving Targets
An article discussing how the current surges in cases of COVID-19 throughout Texas are creating difficulties for health care systems to meet needed capacity. Some ill patients are being directed to travel as far as 700 miles to find an available clinic for treatment.

(07/16/20) Using Interfacility Transfers to ‘Level-load’ Demand From Surging COVID-19 Patients: Lessons From NYC Health + Hospitals
Another review of the New York City Health + Hospitals published in the Health Affairs blog, this time looking at the impact of interfacility transfers to help maintain capacity across the entire health system. New York City Health + Hospitals is the largest public health system in the United States.

(07/16/20) COVID-19 Pandemic Highlights Need to Diversify Healthcare Workforce
An article providing perspectives from multiple health workforce diversification experts about the importance of creating a diverse health workforce, especially in light of the demographic disparities arising in the COVID-19 pandemic.

(07/15/20) Southwest Florida Hospitals Boost Staffing Amid COVID-19 Surge
An article from Beckers Hospital Review covering the method health care systems in Southern Florida are using to help meet the surge in COVID-19 cases, with many seasonal workers being called back early in an effort to meet the needed capacity demanded by the pandemic.

(07/09/20) Amid Surge, Hospitals Hesitate to Cancel Nonemergency Surgeries
An article discussing how the surge capacity strategies of hospitals across the United States has changed in relation to non-emergency, elective surgical procedures. While some states have maintained orders to prevent elective procedures from going forward, many have ended those restrictions and hospitals have been strategically using elective procedures to help reduce their financial losses as a result of the pandemic.

(07/08/20) Saving Primary Care: Is it Time for a New National Service Corps for Primary Care Practices?
A piece by policy analysts at Mathematica describing the potential for a new, Works Progress Administration-style national Primary Care Service Corps in order to help save primary care practices that have faced significant financial trouble addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

(07/08/20) Coronavirus: California Ramps Up Hospital Capacity as Cases Surge
Governor of California Gavin Newsom has announced that California has increased its hospital capacity to treat 50,000 COVID-19 patients. The state has also grown its stockpile to meet the projected need for the ongoing surge in cases.

(07/06/20) COVID-19 Effects on Care Volumes: What They Might Mean and How We Might Respond
A blog post covering the way COVID-19 has impacted patient volume among health care providers. As health care providers closed practices and moved all but urgent and emergency care to telemedicine, revenue losses have led to a reevaluation of payment methods and efficiency in the healthcare system to ensure health care providers can maintain operations.

(07/01/20) More Than One-Third of Primary Care Clinicians Not Ready for Next COVID-19 Surge
New data from the Larry A Green Center shows that 35% of respondents feel they are not ready for another surge in COVID-19. Respondents also cited shortages of personal protective equipment and increases of patients who have issues with chronic disease management stemming from inability to access care during the pandemic.

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