Hospitalizations due to delayed care put extra stress on health systems

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Many hospitals are reporting an influx of patients who delayed care during the pandemic and now require acute care for their worsening conditions. This demand is placing extra stress on organizations already facing capacity issues amid a surge in COVID-19 patients.

As of Oct. 12, Pennsylvania had 567 intensive care unit beds available — the lowest amount seen during the pandemic, according to WITF. During the first surge in April 2020, about 1,600 ICU beds were available in the state. Jonathan Goldman, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Pittsburgh-based UPMC​, said rising COVID-19 cases are not the only reason for this spike. The organization is seeing more patients who have avoided seeking care during the pandemic and now require hospitalization.

"So for example, I do infectious disease, so we're seeing a lot of people with severe diabetic infections, and I think that some of these are a result of not getting as much care last year," Dr. Goldman told WITF.

North Dakota hospitals are reporting a similar trend. While high COVID-19 volumes are fueling hospitalizations and stretching capacity, the issue is compounded by staffing shortages and a wave of patients who can no longer delay care for other conditions, Joshua Ranum, MD, vice president of the North Dakota Medical Association, told the Times.

About 36 percent of adults reported skipping or delaying care during the pandemic, according to a Feb. 16 analysis funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

 

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