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US hospitals face mounting financial struggles, equipment shortages, as coronavirus spreads

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | March 24, 2020

“Clearly, the nation’s health facilities are still not ready, and are in even worse shape than before in some respects, to handle COVID-19,” said Bonnie Castillo, RN and executive director of National Nurses United, in a statement. “We need to act now and act fast. Priority number one is to protect the health and safety of our nurses and health care workers so that they can continue to take care of patients and keep our communities as healthy as possible through this pandemic.”

The union recommends that local, state and federal government enact policies that expand bed capacity, reopen closed hospitals, build additional facilities, and work with the healthcare industry to immediately begin manufacturing PPE equipment, rather than roll back infection control and worker protection standards to offset the shortage in PPE supplies. “That’s not how proper infection control works,” Zenei Cortez, RN and a president of NNU, said in a statement. "You maintain those standards, and figure out a way to get the equipment you need.”

The AHA, along with the American Medical Association and American Nurses Association, has also called for the government to step up, calling for congressional leaders on Thursday to provide $100 billion to equip frontline healthcare personnel and staff with necessary resources and to offset financial woes. They additionally emphasized the need for enough tests and for results to be returned quickly in order to have a more accurate view of the infection rate.

“We’ve already seen facilities facing shortages of needed equipment and high expenses in providing critical care, and this hurts our country’s ability to respond,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack at the AHA press briefing. “The reality is that we are in a war in which hospitals and health systems are on the front lines and our health care workers are putting their lives on the line to fight this battle … No one ever sends their troops into battle without the right protection and ammunition and tools.”

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