News: OIG report finds U.S. hospitals are in “survival mode”
A Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) report has found that because of the year-long battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, many hospitals have found themselves in “survival mode.” Contending with stressed margins, burned-out staff, and exacerbated concerns about care access for vulnerable communities has left many hospitals in this fragile state, HealthLeaders reported.
The report is based on a February 22-26 survey of hospital administrators from 320 hospitals across 45 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Respondents were asked three questions:
- What are your most difficult challenges in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic right now, and what strategies have you been using to address the challenges?
- What are your organization's greatest concerns going forward?
- How can government best support hospitals?
The report noted that many of the challenges posed by the pandemic are even more severe for rural hospitals.
Beyond providing more money, especially for hospitals in rural and underserved areas, the hospitals said the government could best help them by offering guidance on COVID-19 treatment and prevention, including safe discharges of COVID-19 patients, help to reduce depleted staff, especially nurses and specialists, and continuing to encourage the public to get vaccinated.
In the long-term, the hospitals said the pandemic has exposed existing gaps in the nation's care delivery system. They recommend that the federal and state governments and healthcare stakeholders use the public health emergency to address issues that predate the pandemic.
"These improvements include reducing disparities in access to healthcare and in health outcomes, building and maintaining a more robust health care workforce, and strengthening the resiliency of our health care system to respond to pandemics and other public health emergencies and disasters," the report said.