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New Federal Report Outlines Challenges of Hospitals in Addressing COVID-19 Crisis

A recently released national pulse survey from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General highlights key barriers and considerations of the hospital community as it addresses the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey—Hospital Experiences Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Results of a National Pulse Survey March 23-27, 2020—is intended to inform how federal and state agencies, the hospital community, and other health care stakeholders can adapt to the short- and long-term implications of this crisis. The survey asked participants questions about challenges, strategies, and support they need to address the COVID-19 crisis.

Key findings from the survey results include:

  • Widespread lack of access to testing supplies and lags in receiving results
  • Difficulty in securing personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies, maintaining staff levels as people are exposed to the virus, and logistics support to help with surge planning. This included issues with finding reliable sources to procure supplies
  • Conflicting guidance from different jurisdictions regarding use of PPE and securing resources from the national stockpile
  • Financial burden from higher costs associated with securing additional PPE and supplies and expanding surge capacity, as well as losses from cancelling non-emergent surgeries. The report found that as hospitals “essentially ceased performing elective procedures and many other services, which many hospitals said accounted for a substantial portion of their revenue. Meanwhile, hospitals explained that their costs have increased as they prepare for a potential surge of patients by purchasing extra equipment (such as PPE and ventilators), remodeling rooms for negative pressure, or setting up drive-through clinics and tents”
  • Increased needs in managing patient flow, including setting up alternative care sites and finding places for patients who no longer need hospital care, but need to complete their quarantine

Additionally, the report found that hospitals across the country seek additional guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as more support from the federal government to manage their finances. Hospitals reported the need for rapid support from the federal government to increase Medicare payments and offer additional loans and grants to ensure they remain solvent.

Pennsylvania’s hospitals are committed to caring for every patient who walks through their doors, regardless of their health needs or insurance status. Recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed an especially significant and unprecedented burden on the state’s hospital community, HAP continues to work with state and federal lawmakers to make sure that facilities have the resources they needs to respond to the ever-changing situation in the state. This includes ensuring that hospitals remain financially stable as many of them have retooled to prepare for a surge in COVID-19 patients. 

For more information, contact Laura Stevens Kent, HAP’s senior vice president, strategic integration.

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