Hospitals

Amid Surge, Hospitals Hesitate To Cancel Nonemergency Surgeries

Three months ago, the nation watched as COVID-19 patients overwhelmed New York City’s intensive care units, forcing some of its hospitals to convert cafeterias into wards and pitch tents in parking lots.

Hospitals elsewhere prepped for a similar surge: They cleared beds, stockpiled scarce protective equipment, and — voluntarily or under government orders — temporarily canceled nonemergency surgeries to save space and supplies for coronavirus patients.

In most places, that surge in patients never materialized.

Now, coronavirus cases are skyrocketing nationally and hospitalizations are climbing at an alarming rate. But the response from hospitals is markedly different.

Most hospitals around the country are not canceling elective surgeries — nor are government officials asking them to.

Instead, hospitals say they are more prepared to handle the crush of patients because they have enough protective gear for their workers and know how to better treat coronavirus patients. They say they will shut

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COVID Catch-22: They Got A Big ER Bill Because Hospitals Couldn’t Test For Virus

Fresh off a Caribbean cruise in early March, John Campbell developed a cough and fever of 104 degrees. He went to his primary care physician and got a flu test, which came up negative.

Then things got strange. Campbell said the doctor then turned to him and said, “I’ve called the ER next door, and you need to go there. This is a matter of public health. They’re expecting you.”

It was March 3, and no one had an inkling yet of just how bad the COVID-19 pandemic would become in the U.S.

At the JFK Medical Center near his home in Boynton Beach, Florida, staffers met him in protective gear, then ran a battery of tests — including bloodwork, a chest X-ray and an electrocardiogram — before sending him home. But because he had not traveled to China — a leading criterion at the time for coronavirus testing —

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The Pandemic Is Hurting Pediatric Hospitals, Too

Children have largely escaped the ravages of COVID-19, but children’s hospitals have not eluded the financial pain the pandemic has wrought on health care providers.

Pediatric hospitals offered themselves as backups to their adult counterparts in case of a surge of coronavirus patients. They suspended nonemergency surgeries and stockpiled protective gear and virus test kits, according to hospital executives and financial analysts.

But, in many regions, the surge was smaller than anticipated – or hasn’t materialized. And children’s hospitals that have offered to take sick kids off the hands of adult hospitals, or extend the age of people they admit, have not seen an influx of patients to fill the beds they emptied. As a result, numerous pediatric facilities, like many of the adult ones, face sharply declining revenues and extra expenses.

“We turned off a significant volume of our activity for a surge that isn’t going to occur. And

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Under COVID Cloud, Prisons In Rural America Threaten To Choke Rural Hospitals

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept into Montana, it spread into the Marias Heritage Center assisted living facility, then flowed into the nearby 21-bed hospital.

Toole County quickly became the state’s hot spot for COVID-19 deaths, with more than four times the infection rate of all other counties and the most recorded deaths in the state. Six of the state’s 16 COVID deaths through Tuesday have occurred here.

But another danger loomed: What if it got into the prison, less than 4 miles away from the hospital and assisted living facility? The county was nearly overwhelmed as it was. Across rural America, prisons and jails sit in places like Toole County that have minimal intensive care unit beds and ventilators and few additional medical resources. Many hospitals there were strained before the pandemic.

This rural, 5,000-person county tucked under the Canadian border might not have seemed like a breeding ground for

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