The years previous the pandemic noticed a drop within the variety of U.S. hospitals and beds, and the price of caring for Covid-19 sufferers might push these totals even decrease, in response to a commerce group report.

Research issued late Thursday by the American Hospital Association reveals the variety of amenities dropped to six,090 in 2019 — the latest yr knowledge had been obtainable — from 6,146 the earlier yr. Hospital beds additionally decreased, to round 920,000 in 2019 from 924,000 in 2018, persevering with a decades-long development.

The explosion of Covid-19 has not solely overwhelmed workers and amenities however pushed extra hospitals into monetary misery as they restricted extra worthwhile elective procedures and confronted the “astronomical” prices of making ready for an inflow of contaminated sufferers, the group mentioned. Covid-19 instances “tend to be incredibly resource intensive,” the report added.

Even the $175 billion suppliers obtained from the CARES Act “falls far short of covering these losses,” in response to the report.

Rural ‘concern’

The U.S. has reported 24.5 million instances and greater than 400,000 deaths from the pandemic as intensive care beds have crammed throughout the nation, in response to knowledge collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News.

The AHA estimated final spring that hospitals would tally at the very least $323 billion in losses as a result of virus via the top of 2020. But that didn’t account for sure bills like prices for protecting gear or surging instances that proceed to roil the nation, it mentioned. The long-term affect on care can be “severe, and in many cases, catastrophic,” in response to the report. The viability of rural hospitals, lots of which had been affected by declining revenues earlier than the pandemic, is of “particular concern.”

The variety of rural neighborhood hospitals declined by 16 in 2019, to 1,805, in response to the AHA.

But that’s not their solely concern, mentioned James Wesp, principal of health-care consultancy Oasis LLC. “Small, rural facilities do not have the staff or certain, critical specialists and equipment to effectively treat the influx of Covid patients,” he mentioned.

The first spherical of the virus bypassed rural areas, and hospitals there furloughed employees or noticed workers depart to take profitable jobs in epicenters, Wesp mentioned. “When the next wave hit these rural centers, they were not prepared from a staffing standpoint or with the necessary supplies, including PPE.”

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