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ASCs Would Boost ICU Bed Supply by 21% During Coronavirus Crisis

Analysis  |  By Jack O'Brien  
   March 26, 2020

Utilizing ambulatory surgery centers would also increase medical-surgical bed capacity by 8% nationwide.

As healthcare providers seek to increase intensive care unit (ICU) bed capacity in the face of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, a new analysis suggests that ambulatory surgery centers (ASC) could offer an unconventional solution.

An Array Analytics study released Wednesday found that health systems across the country could boost ICU hospital bed capacity by 21% if ASCs were utilized. Additionally, leveraging ASCs would boost medical-surgical bed capacity by 8% nationwide.

As it relates to ICU bed capacity, the District of Columbia would have the largest increase in capacity by utilizing ASCs, at 63%. This is followed by Maryland at 48%, Arizona at 47%, Colorado at 40%, and Wyoming at 34%. 

Related: Despite Federal COVID-19 Stimulus, Many Hospitals Could Face Layoffs Within Two Months

The analysis urged health systems and state officials to examine alternative options for housing patients infected with COVID-19, referencing the available supply of hotel rooms as well.

"Our analyses show that the roughly 900,000 hospital and ICU beds available in the U.S., numbers that include the ASCs, are simply not sufficient to meet the potential need for space," Fady Barmada, president of Array Analytics, said in a statement. "Our new, publicly available, surge capacity alternative space model presents additional paths that healthcare systems can take to increase bed availability."

The analysis was released 10 days after an Array Advisors study indicated that most states will run out of available ICU hospital beds by mid-April.

"Our analysis emphasizes the narrowing window of time left for all states to expand their capacity to care for patients requiring hospitalization," Array Advisors stated in a cover letter. "While these numbers may be alarming, they intensify the healthcare industryโ€™s call for urgent action."

Like the expected ICU bed shortages, states will also begin to face medical-surgical hospital bed shortages by the second week of April.

Related: See When States Will Face Hospital Bed Capacity Shortages During COVID-19 Outbreak

Once health systems exhaust in-house options to increase bed capacity, the Array study stated that providers will "assess alternative locations," including hotels and convention centers.

Some states, like Texas and California, each have over 500,000 available hotel rooms, while other states like New York, Florida, and Nevada have over 200,000 available rooms.

Related: HHS Awards $100M to Health Centers to Prepare for COVID-19

Jack O'Brien is the Content Team Lead and Finance Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

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