The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a new report that details the breadth of challenges hospitals face as COVID-19 spreads rapidly across the country.
While grim stories from inside hospitals have inundated headlines in recent weeks, this report provides a much-needed aggregation of hospital needs.
The survey included 323 hospitals nationwide and occurred via telephone interviews with hospital administrators between March 23 and March 27.
In the report, hospitals reported substantial shortages across the board in terms of:
- hospital beds
- logistic support
- testing supplies
- personal protective equipment (PPE)
The report revealed unprecedented strategies hospitals have turned to in addressing these challenges.
According to the report, some hospitals said that they used "non-traditional sources of medical equipment," including masks and other personal protective equipment from "online retailers, home supply stores, paint stores, autobody supply shops and beauty salons."
To combat shortages of essential cleaning supplies, one hospital described "making disinfectants, such as bleach, out of on-hand chemicals, such as chlorine."
Another hospital said that a federal agency sent them two shipments of personal protective equipment that had expired 10 years prior. According to the report, "the shipment contained construction masks that looked different than traditional masks and did not contain a true N95 seal."
Some hospitals indicated that the inconsistencies in guidance coming from federal and state governments created confusion for patients and healthcare providers.