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How prepared is your hospital for COVID-19?

Summary:
I've written a blog post for the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP).  It begins: One widely touted response to the COVID-19 pandemic is to “flatten the curve” — to spread COVID-19 infections over time, so that the medical system can cope with them. Yet a cold hard look at the numbers suggests our hospitals cannot cope with the most flattened of curves. Indeed, they cannot cope with any kind of curve at all. Canada has 1.95 acute care hospital beds per 1,000 people, fewer than any other OECD country but Mexico. (Italy, which has been overwhelmed by this coronavirus, has 34 percent more beds per capita than we do: 2.62 per 1,000 people.) Nationwide, the occupancy rate for Canada’s hospital beds is over 90 percent. (To put that number into perspective, the occupancy rate for

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I've written a blog post for the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP).  It begins:

One widely touted response to the COVID-19 pandemic is to “flatten the curve” — to spread COVID-19 infections over time, so that the medical system can cope with them. Yet a cold hard look at the numbers suggests our hospitals cannot cope with the most flattened of curves. Indeed, they cannot cope with any kind of curve at all.

Canada has 1.95 acute care hospital beds per 1,000 people, fewer than any other OECD country but Mexico. (Italy, which has been overwhelmed by this coronavirus, has 34 percent more beds per capita than we do: 2.62 per 1,000 people.) Nationwide, the occupancy rate for Canada’s hospital beds is over 90 percent. (To put that number into perspective, the occupancy rate for US hospital beds is 64 percent.) Canada’s bed numbers and occupancy rates together imply that the “spare capacity” in our health care system is, at best, around 2 acute care beds per 10,000 people. If even a small fraction of Canadians contract COVID-19, and a non-trivial portion of those require hospitalization, our system will be overwhelmed.

How did Canada end up in this situation, and what can be done about it? (read the rest here).
The provincial level calculations in the post are based on Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) data on the number of beds per hospital, per health region, and per province. You can download the raw data, plus a pivot table showing bed numbers at the health region and province level, here: Download Beds per health region

A project for someone with a computer and time on their hands?

Frances Woolley
I am a Professor of Economics at Carleton University, where I have taught since 1990. My research centres on families and public policy. My most-cited work is on modelling family-decision making, measuring inequality within the household, feminist economics, and tax-benefit policy towards families. I hold a BA from Simon Fraser University, an MA from Queen’s, and completed my doctorate at the London School of Economics, under the supervision of Tony Atkinson.

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