Not all hospital beds are created equal. Right now, hospitals need special rooms that can isolate people with contagious diseases like the coronavirus, known as negative pressure rooms. And intensive care unit rooms, where doctors provide advanced life-saving care, are also in demand amid the pandemic.
"There's beds, and then there's ICU beds in a negative pressure room," said Soumi Saha, a senior director of advocacy at Premier, which works with hospitals around the US.
To increase capacity, she said, EvergreenHealth in Kirkland, Washington, an early epicenter of the US COVID-19 outbreak, put 58 patients in 15 negative pressure rooms that typically hold one patient each. Premier is set to survey the hospitals it works with to get a sense of how much added ICU capacity each is able to make in light of the outbreak beyond their normal capacities.
Elsewhere, hospitals have been canceling elective procedures. On Wednesday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recommended limiting all non-essential procedures indefinitely.