were hospitals overwhelmed in 2018?

Cunningham, the hospital's executive director of emergency services, said she had thought the tent would be dismantled after a few days, but staff are still seeing 60 more patients a day than usual, she said. As of 6 January, the hospital has admitted about a quarter of the 303 patients seen with influenza A infections, compared with about 19 of the 89 cases seen this time last year. A modelling programme called FluSurge, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help hospitals plan, generates some pretty sobering scenarios, he said. The ratio of COVID-19 hospitalisations to total beds gives an idea of the pressure a hospital is under.

In the spring, doctors had hoped that a shortage of ventilators would force them to resort to crisis care standards, but now hospitals are mostly saying that the limiting factor is turning out to be skilled staff who can care for critically ill patients, not machines or beds. Bernard Camins, associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says UAB Hospital cancelled elective surgeries scheduled for Thursday and Friday last week to make more beds available for flu patients. Health officials in Southern California are warning the public that the current flu season is so intense that some hospitals are diverting patients because of increasingly limited capacity. Hospitals in some of the hardest-hit states are depleting all healthcare workers, wards and equipment to avoid a worst-case scenario when crisis plans must be put in place and care rationed.

Since the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 mortality rates have declined in patients who are hospitalised, thanks in part to improvements in treatment. Averages have been calculated by adding the seven-day average for each individual hospital and dividing by the number of hospitals reporting data in a county. In California, which has been particularly hard hit by this season's flu, several hospitals have set up large "tents outside their emergency departments to house and treat flu patients". Mateen says that while there is not yet enough research to definitively prove that crowded hospitals lead to higher death rates, it would be better to assume so and act aggressively now to stem the rise in hospitalisations.

During the current surge, hospitals are once again faced with complicated decisions about how far to stretch care. Virginia hospitals are also overwhelmed by the growing number of flu cases coming into the emergency department. And when paramedics are able to drop patients off at a hospital, the emergency room is often so full that there are no staff available to transfer care.

Summer Mason
Summer Mason

Infuriatingly humble twitter fanatic. Professional pop culture lover. Professional twitteraholic. Infuriatingly humble bacon scholar. Typical tvaholic.

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