Hospital Beds and the COVID-19 Crisis

Hospital operations expert and Columbia Business School professor Carri Chan on how hospitals are addressing capacity issues and how the public can help. By Stephen Chupaska

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As the COVID-19 outbreak worsens, Professor Carri Chan says it is vital that the US hospital system and the public take immediate steps to stave off a crisis-level shortage of ICU beds.

“Hospitals are worried and they recognize they are getting close to their limits,” Chan says. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, an average of 85 percent of the nation’s 75,000 ICU beds are occupied, leaving roughly 11,250 available, well below the estimated 67,000 beds that would be needed in a best-case scenario over the next six months to treat COVID-19 patients.

Writing in the New York Daily News, Chan, associate professor in the Decision, Risk, and Operations Division, stressed the importance of testing and early treatment, which can reduce mortality rates by 10 percent while lessening the burden on ICUs.

Click here for the full interview discussing Chan's research on ICU capacity and hospital delays and offering her advice on how people can help stem the pandemic.

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