Experts believe that preparedness is tricky as a government or even a hospital cannot know their level of readiness until they know the depth of the situation.
Coronavirus started affecting humans from December 2019, and it was until February 2020, when the whole world realised the gravity of the situation. The biggest question that arose was if the healthcare systems of the countries were prepared for such a situation. With the US being the most affected nation, there are surveys coming out that are questioning the superpower’s abilities to save its people.
While medicine and vaccines take research and time, countries are facing issues with the scarcity of medical masks, suits, ventilators and even beds.
According to Black Book’s recent survey, 96 per cent of nursing and clinical staff believe their facility may no longer be the best place to house susceptible elderly patients. They surveyed 880 providers from 41 states of long-term care (nursing homes, hospitals, short-term rehabilitation facilities, home health services, durable medical equipment/DME distributors, skilled nursing and sub-acute facilities, and hospices) to help stakeholders make strategic decisions in addressing the demand for post-acute services in the current environment of the highly contagious disease.
While technology is expected to help in such situations, this scenario has shown all the issues that have raised with slow and late installation in the healthcare sector. Cent per cent administrators in Black Book survey confirmed that there is not a database that can be accessed by long-term care providers to self-report or investigate what facilities have cared for COVID patients and residents. “There is no private or public system in place for post-acute providers to help share this information,” said Doug Brown, President of the healthcare industry polling organization Black Book.
But this has not been the first time that the world has faced a pandemic. Similar situations arose in 1968 and 1957 and what has been called the Great Influenza in 1918, a pandemic that killed 40-50 million people worldwide. While the world has been preparing for powerful army and defence forces and making a stronger economy, seems like there were not many lessons learnt from the past.
Even the current measures like ventilators did not prove to be enough, and this was discovered 10 years back. A 2010 survey revealed that across the country there were only about 62,000 full-featured ventilators, which is way less than the required capacity.
With the cases reaching over 4,50,000 in US and deaths crossing 15 thousand, it is very clear that the county has not been prepared for such a pandemic. But, experts also suggest that there is never late to prepare.
In the Health and Human Services Pandemic Influenza Plan, Secretary Mike Leavitt stated, “No one in the world today is fully prepared for a pandemic — but we are better prepared today than we were yesterday – and we will be better prepared tomorrow than we are today.”