Data Center: Mass. bed capacity not enough to handle virus peak

Coronavirus
Massachusetts State House_276543

Massachusetts State House

BOSTON, Mass. (SHNS)–Massachusetts will have enough ventilators to treat the state’s COVID-19 patients if the federal government delivers the 1,000 units Gov. Charlie Baker says federal officials promised, according to a forecast published by a University of Washington health data center whose worked was touted this week by a top federal health official.

Whether those ventilators are likely to be distributed around the state in a manner that ensures they’re in the right places at the right time was not explored in the work by Dr. Christopher J.L. Murray and his colleagues a the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Baker has said the surge in COVID-19 infections and patients is expected between April 7 and April 17.

“The surge has moved back with respect to where people thought it was going to be,” Baker said Tuesday. “And we’re currently in the process of dealing with gear, beds, personnel and what I would describe as sort of geographic recognition of where we anticipate and expect we’re going to need to put a lot of that stuff to ensure that we have the resources in place to serve the need.”

The institute’s frequently updated forecast on the state-by-state needs the virus is likely to generate includes best- and worst-case scenarios, as well as mean figures that split the difference. The means for Massachusetts for key data points as of April 1 include:

— Massachusetts will need 9,375 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients on the peak need day of April 16. The University of Washington model predicts 4,848 beds will be available.

— Massachusetts will need 1,435 intensive care unit beds on the peak need day of April 13. The model estimates only 277 will be available.

— Massachusetts will need 1,189 ventilators on the peak need day of April 13. An exact count of ventilators already in the state is hard to come by.

The report forecasts that the worst single day in Massachusetts for deaths due to COVID-19 will be April 17, with 99, and that the total COVID-19 death count through early August will be 2,357, though the toll could be as high as 4,141 and as low as 778.

The forecast predicts need for medical services in all settings will decline sharply in late April and early May.

State officials have begun to address surge capacity bed needs by converting nursing homes in Worcester and Wilmington to COVID-19-only facilities and by using the DCU Center in Worcester.

On Monday, Baker announced that the federal government will send more than 1,000 ventilators to Massachusetts, which he said will make a “big difference” to the most critical patients. He said he expected the ventilators to arrive by week’s end.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, recently cited the work of the University of Washington health data center.

Online: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Massachusetts Projections.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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