Throughout the pandemic, health officials in COVID-19 hot spots as well as remote rural areas have had to contend with supplying enough space and beds to accommodate surges in coronavirus patients, in some cases resorting to using hotels for makeshift hospital rooms or converting public venues into field hospitals.
A new Morning Consult survey indicates that, even as the country passes the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 cases, many health care workers are concerned that their facilities still lack the capacity to treat a sudden burst of coronavirus patients.
In the poll conducted Jan. 4-9 among 1,000 health care workers, over half (55 percent) said their facilities have enough capacity to handle a potential increase in COVID-19 patients, though roughly a third (31 percent) said their facilities wouldn’t have the space in such an event. The survey has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
Health care workers were slightly more optimistic about their facility’s ability to handle more COVID-19 patients right now: 63 percent said their facility is currently ready to address a potential increase in coronavirus patients, while 24 percent said it is not. The workers expressed similar sentiments regarding their facility’s handling of a future spike in patients (60 percent to 27 percent, respectively).
Another issue during the pandemic has been ensuring that health care workers possess the necessary supplies to do their jobs safely. During the early months, many facilities lacked adequate amounts of personal protective equipment -- gloves, masks, face shields, gowns -- for workers treating COVID-19 patients and in some cases were forced to reuse PPE.
In the survey, slightly over two-thirds of health care workers said their facilities have the proper amount of PPE to handle a potential increase in COVID-19 patients, while 22 percent said they don’t.