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HHS Survey Highlights Hospital Efforts during the Pandemic

April 06, 2021

In a recent survey, hospital leaders from across the nation provided a glimpse at the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged their facilities and staff, while offering next steps to ensure safe care during the pandemic and beyond.

Released last month, the report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) highlights responses from 320 hospital administrators, emergency managers, chief executive officers, and others in the health care community. HHS surveyed hospitals nearly a year after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic, focusing on hospital challenges, strategies for safe care, and the ways the government can offer support.

Hospitals have continued to meet the challenges of the pandemic, but COVID-19 has taken its toll on the health care workforce, the report notes.

Among the key takeaways from the report:

  • Complex care: Throughout the pandemic, hospitals have worked to manage the volume of COVID-19 patients and the complexity of their immediate and long-term needs
  • Delayed Care: Patients have delayed or forgone routine health care, leading to worsening conditions and concerns about health in the future, as one hospital emergency preparedness director said: “Things that are elective, if not dealt with over time, are no longer elective.”
  • Addressing disparities: The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on existing disparities in access to care and health outcomes
  • Vaccines: With their health care infrastructure, hospitals are well-positioned to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Staffing remains a concern, as one emergency manager noted: “What the public doesn't see is that the same health care workers they rely on to provide care are the same ones being pulled to distribute vaccinations.”
  • Innovative approaches to care: Expanded access to telehealth has helped patient access to care during the pandemic and will remain an important tool beyond the pandemic

The report identifies key public health priorities and the ways the government can support hospitals, such as increased funding to support the health care workforce and to address financial challenges presented by the pandemic. The government should continue to study and invest in prevention and treatments for COVID-19, the report notes.

HAP continues to support Pennsylvania’s hospitals and health systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals have played an instrumental role throughout the global health pandemic, safely treating patients with COVID-19, administering the COVID-19 vaccines across the commonwealth, and ensuring quality care is available within their communities.

The HHS report is available to review online.