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Hospitals are still packed in 2023 despite illnesses dropping

Hospitals are still packed in 2023 despite illnesses dropping
Hospitals overwhelmed in 2023 despite falling illnesses

Hospitals The 2020 Covid-19 outbreak created a great deal of difficulty as the sick overflowed US hospitals.

Rooms and corridors regularly flooded with patients due to the high patient traffic.

However, vaccinations have helped to lessen the problem.

Despite the virus’s reduced danger, hospitals in the US are still too full.

Winter recovery

Over the winter, the US was under a triple danger from COVID-19, the flu, and RSV.

The majority of states today report low to almost zero activity in respiratory diseases, showing that the country has been healing.

Official statistics show a 30% decline in the number of visits to emergency departments for respiratory illnesses since January.

The number of flu-related hospitalizations is practically at its lowest level since October.

Patients with Covid-19 are occupying 4% of hospital beds nationwide, despite a recent drop in admissions for the illness.

A shift

The new data demonstrates a substantial change from January 2022 until the time that Covid-19 patients swamped hospitals during the early Omicron surge.

However, the situation in hospitals is still packed, and it doesn’t appear like it will soon improve.

Experts assert that hospitals already had capacity and resource concerns before to the epidemic due to people being sicker than previously.

Nancy Foster, vice president for quality and patient safety at the American Hospital Association, says:

“It’s been a continuing trend over the last decade or so that there’s been this greater acuity of patients inside the hospitals.”

“So what you see is this incredibly sick group of people inside of hospitals.”

“If you’re a doctor or nurse or respiratory therapist or pharmacist or any other health professional working inside the hospital, that means it’s always a difficult puzzle you’re trying to solve to help that patient out.”


The patient mix at hospitals is comparable with pre-pandemic figures, according to Aaron Wesolowski, vice president of policy research, analytics, and strategy for the American Hospital Association.

According to Foster, as the number of Covid-19 patients decreases, it can become less stressful for medical personnel who first felt resentful of the limited resources available to help them.

Read also: Covid-19 spikes in recent ‘senior wave’

Wesolowski, on the other hand, asserted that fewer people attended inpatient and emergency departments in 2022 compared to 2019 using Strata data.

Experts claim that several complex issues became worse throughout the pandemic, placing a strain on available resources.

“Length of stay is longer because people are needing more acute care,” said Wesolowski.

“Because of work force pressures, there are not as many people who can be treated in an inpatient setting all at once.”

“So both things, I think, can be true.”

Samuel Scarpino, director of Northeastern University’s AI and life sciences department, views the current state of affairs as a “perfect storm” of issues, including:

  • Covid-19 and ongoing control measures hospital use to keep in place
  • A backlog of patients with a delayed need for acute care
  • A workforce that’s burnt out after three years of the pandemic

Covid-19, according to Scarpino, is still the most significant factor.

Not because a new variety leads to more hospitalizations, but because of uncertainty, hospitals must add greater beds as a buffer.

“The biggest risk is almost certainty associated with what’s coming,” said Scarpino.


Nancy Foster claims that the declaration of a pandemic emergency made it possible for patients to obtain telehealth care outside of hospitals.

The emergency designation has been continuously renewed by the federal government since January 2020, but it is expected to terminate in May.

Without the proclamation, hospitals would likely have been busier than they are now, especially since the amount of treatment options available outside of hospitals might once again become more limited.

“Part of the reason we have the kind of inpatient hospital scarcity that we have right now is that we do have a number of flexibilities that were granted by [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] and other federal agencies and the states during Covid that are being used for a wide variety of patients,” said Foster.

“If those were to disappear overnight, we would be struggling to care for the current level of patients.”

Image source: Healthline

Opinions expressed by Portland News contributors are their own.