Suhas Gondi ( @suhas_gondi) is a medical student at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Abdul El-Sayed ( @AbdulElSayed) is a physician, epidemiologist and previous health director for the city of Detroit. He is also a CNN political analyst. The views expressed in this commentary belong to the authors. View more viewpoint at CNN.
(CNN) As Covid-19 spreads throughout the United States, the number of individuals who need medical attention could overwhelm our health care system. If that occurs, estimates vary, but many agree that the requirement for hospital and intensive care unit beds will far outmatch our supply.
Certainly, Covid-19 will likely strain an already overwhelmed health care system in the US, with lots of healthcare facilities operating near or at full capacity
This is a lot more concerning when one considers that Italy, where Covid-19 is presently ruining the health care system, has significantly more health center beds
per capita than the United States. While medical facilities around the US are working to broaden their capacities, we might still fail, specifically if the coronavirus continues to spread at existing transmission rates.
How do we take care of everyone who will need it in the coming weeks and months? We must develop a parallel Covid-19 care system.
Establishing a parallel healthcare system for the coronavirus that utilizes a secondary labor force would permit us to quickly increase our capacity, mitigate the problem on our existing supplier labor force and minimize patient-to-patient or patient-to-provider transmission that could endanger the susceptible individuals currently hospitalized for other factors.
Led by the US Public Health Service with the assistance of the military, this parallel Covid-19 care system would include designated treatment centers established for the express function of assessing and offering encouraging care to patients with thought or confirmed Covid-19 infection. Ideally, these centers would exist in less largely inhabited locations quickly accessible from significant metropolitan areas.
Our military– experts in logistics in high-stress emergency situation situations– has a long history of quickly standing up facilities like these. The US Army, for example, releases Battle Support Healthcare Facilities
, mobile medical facilities housed in tents and expandable containers, to provide care in battle settings. Covid-19 treatment centers could obtain features from these existing models.
Our logistics-driven military branches are an ideal fit to personnel this parallel system, offered they can be trained and deployed rapidly. This secondary labor force could be overseen by medical professionals (military or civilian) and broadly capable of contact tracing, containment, mitigation and encouraging medical treatment. Fortifying their efforts may require getting retired doctors and nurses, empowering resident doctors and training non-providers with something akin to what emergency medical technicians receive so they have the ability to administer fundamental care under the oversight of a certified health care provider.
This would fill existing gaps in our public health and healthcare infrastructure and offload a few of the concern from regional authorities and medical companies. Naturally, providing appropriate individual protective devices and extensive training and instruction is a requirement to any implementation.
A client experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 might provide to a regional emergency clinic (or, preferably, call a national hotline number or engage virtually with a health care service provider). After doctor either verify a client has Covid-19 or dismiss alternative medical diagnoses, the client would immediately be transported to a COVID-specific website by way of a complimentary, safe and available transit created to prevent transmission. There, qualified employees would examine the patient and provide helpful treatment.
Significantly, the Covid-care system must be prepared to manage the sickest patients– such as those in significant respiratory distress– since they need the most resources and present the best challenge to the existing healthcare system. This will need both negative pressure spaces that prevent cross contamination, as well as ventilator
assistance– which is presently limited in the face of a surge from the pandemic.
In this regard, Covid-19 will require us to draw upon the Center for Disease Control and Avoidance’s Strategic National Stockpile, but likewise to innovate new innovation to provide ventilation assistance rapidly, effectively and at scale.
Besides reducing the stress on our healthcare system, this parallel system would likewise better support public health functions, like tracking, information reporting and quarantining. Procedures would be centralized and carried out uniformly, rather of disparately by personal systems with their own standard operating procedures.
Producing a parallel health care system for Covid-19 and staffing it with a secondary workforce is no little job. It requires thoughtful planning, specialist input to work out the details, near-perfect coordination across lots of groups at all levels of federal government and cautious execution to implement at scale. Above all, it needs management.
Now is the time for decisive action. With direction from the White Home and Congressional appropriations, we can activate the resources needed to develop the Covid-care system we require to decrease the stress on our health care system and supply quality look after those who will experience this epidemic.
Without aggressive steps like the ones we propose here, we fear the consequences of Covid-19 on the function of our healthcare system for all patients.
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