Modeling Hospital Bed Shortages in Wake of COVID-19 Spread

Modeling Hospital Bed Shortages in Wake of COVID-19 Spread
March 19, 2020 Center for Surgery and Public Health

March 17, 2020

Article in the New York Times “These Places Could Run Out of Hospital Beds as Coronavirus Spreads” covers findings from a model developed by researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health estimating localized availability of hospital beds needed to accommodate COVID-19 patients over the coming months.

During an interview with WBUR, one of the researchers behind the model, CSPH faculty Dr. Thomas Tsai shares the model’s implications for the Boston healthcare system: “What we’re finding is in the Boston hospital region, if we are not able to flatten the curve, the anticipated demand for ICU beds is going to far outstrip the available beds. What we’re finding is that the excess demand over capacity is over 600%. But if we’re able to flatten out the curve to 12 months, we can decrease that to 200% … And then we have a real fighting chance, if we can decrease the demand down when we spread the disease out to 18 months. And that gives us — the physicians and clinicians in the hospitals — a chance to appropriately treat all the patients that may become infected.”

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