Healthcare staff and non-COVID patients will benefit from conversion of hospitals to COVID-19 ICUs, says GlobalData

As the number of COVID-19 cases over the next two weeks is expected to peak in many countries, plans to convert hospitals into COVID-19 intensive care units (ICUs) will go a long way to help protect healthcare staff and other non-COVID-19 patients by creating precious ICU bed space, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

According to the New York State Department of Health, over 85% of ICU beds are already full in NYC, leaving only a few hundred beds free for COVID-19 patients in critical condition, as well as other patients requiring hospitalization.

Eric Chapman, Medical Devices Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Since the coronavirus outbreak, NYC has added more than 1,000 ICU beds to the approximately 1,400 previously existing ICU beds across the city. Mayor Bill de Blasio indicated that NYC might have to convert most of the 20,000 traditional hospital beds into ICU beds to account for the projected number of COVID-19 patients that are expected to require emergency care. NYC has been hit particularly hard with the coronavirus pandemic and has up to 20% of all coronavirus cases in the US.”

In the Canadian province of Ontario, calculations by the government suggest that the province could run out of ICU beds in less than two weeks.

Chapman adds: “Ontario will need to add close to 1,000 ICU beds to the existing 400 beds that are available to cope with the influx of COVID-19 patients. The situation is dire in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, where less than 20 ICU beds remain available in the entire Greater Toronto Area.”

While the provincial government has granted permission for hospitals to increase their capacity for COVID-19 patients, it is unclear how hospitals will accommodate the growing number of patients.

Chapman concludes: “As the US has the largest number of critical care beds per capital, other countries will find it more difficult to convert existing beds into the number of ICU beds required to accommodate COVID-19 patients. However, there are other options in addition to converting existing hospital beds into ICU beds. For instance, in China, hospitals were rapidly built specifically for COVID-19 patients. Alternatively, non-medical buildings such as dorms and hotels could be converted into facilities to house COVID-19 patients. Such strategies could be implemented by governments that don’t have the ability to convert existing beds into ICU beds.”

More Media