Are Utah hospitals ready for the rising number of COVID-19 cases?

Coronavirus Updates

In this Feb. 13, 2020 photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, nurses in protective suits treat a patient in the intensive care unit at Ditan Hospital in Beijing, one of the hospitals in China’s capital that are receiving COVID-19 patients. China on Friday reported another sharp rise in the number of people infected with a new virus, as the death toll neared 1,400. (Zhang Yuwei/Xinhua via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News)- How prepared are hospitals for a mass capacity of patients due to the outbreak of Coronavirus in Utah?

As state and national officials continue to stress the need for Americans to self-isolate, a fear of overwhelming hospitals is looming. Health industry experts from the website QuoteWizard analyzed Kaiser Family Foundation data on hospital beds and physicians per 1,000 and ranked each state to highlight which states might have the highest capacity to handle the coronavirus as the nation works to flatten the curve.

One of the main concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic is how well the health care systems are prepared to deal with the rising number of cases. The capacity of the health care system to handle COVID-19 is dependent on how many people have access to health care essentials like hospital beds, nurses, doctors, and equipment such as ventilators.

According to the data, their findings show Utah has an average of 1.82 hospital beds and 2.11 certified physicians per 1,000 people, ranking the Beehive state among the worst for hospital capacity in the nation.

When asked if we are close to overwhelming Utah’s healthcare system, State Epidemiologist, Angela Dunn said, “We are not close to it now. Currently, all of our healthcare systems are able to maintain capacity and care for patients appropriately and effectively.”

“Our goal for this outbreak is to ensure that anyone that needs an ICU bed is able to get one in Utah,” she said. “We are working with the governor’s office to procure more ventilators and more options for bed space if we do have a surge on our healthcare systems,” she said Thursday.

Dr. Dunn said they have a team working on alternate care sites outside of the hospital setting. “In other states and in other pandemics places like convention centers, potentially hotels, have been established as these ‘pop up hospitals’ and so we’re assessing all of those situations in Utah to ensure access to quality care is continued throughout this outbreak.”

Related: 402 cases of coronavirus confirmed in Utah, 14 are out-of-state visitors

Other findings from the study show:

  • Utah has the 4th worst average for hospitals beds, and the same rank for physicians.
  • Nationwide, there are an average of 2.96 physicians and 2.4 hospital beds per 1,000 people.
  • 23 states saw a decrease in hospital beds per 1,000 people for 2014 to 2018.
  • West Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania rank highest for hospital preparedness.
  • Utah, Idaho, and Nevada rank lowest for hospital preparedness.

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