Hospitals Prepare for the Next Wave of COVID-19

November 24, 2020

The employees of the nation’s hospitals can see it coming. They’re watching the levels of COVID-19 admissions into their facilities closely, and they know what they might mean. Having gone through the spring pandemic and the accompanying shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), patients overflowing into hospital hallways and the uncertainty of when it will subside, they are preparing for the worst. 

Consider New York City. As the number of COVID-19 cases nationally reaches new heights and infections surge locally, the city’s hospitals are seeing nothing like the influx of patients they treated during the spring outbreak, but they’re bracing for anything, according to The City. As of Nov. 19, 746 COVID-19 patients were being cared for in city hospitals — a number rising rapidly yet still far short of the 12,000-plus at April’s peak, when more than 1,500 patients arrived daily in desperate shape.

Still reeling from that experience, hospitals around the five boroughs have been preparing for months for the possibility of another surge, hoping to deploy the lessons they learned during an agonizing spring. Hospitals are stockpiling months worth of face masks, shields, gowns and gloves so they don’t face shortages like those of eight months ago.

Yet nurses this week issued dire warnings that shortages of staff and protective gear may again plague health care providers and impede patient care. Some said they’re already seeing signs of a lack of PPE, including at city-run Bellevue Hospital where nurses are back to sometimes reusing masks.

 

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