Hospital surge capacity is a crucial part of community disaster preparedness planning, which focuses on the requirements for additional beds, equipment, personnel, and special capabilities.The scope and urgency of these requirements must be balanced with a practical approach addressing cost and space concerns. Renewed concerns for infectious disease threats, particularly from a potential avian flu pandemic perspective, have emphasized the need to be prepared for a prolonged surge that could last six to eight weeks.
The surge capacity that realistically would be generated by the cumulative Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association (GDAHA) plan is sufficient to meet the demands of an avian influenza pandemic as predicted by the [US] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) models.
Using a standardized data form, surge response plans for each hospital in the GDAHA were assessed.The cumulative results were compared to the demand projected for an avian influenza pandemic using the CDC's FluAid and FluSurge models.
The cumulative GDAHA capacity is sufficient to meet the projected demand for bed space, intensive care unit beds, ventilators, morgue space, and initial personal protective equipment (PPE) use. There is a shortage of negative pressure rooms, some basic equipment, and neuraminidase inhibitors. Many facilities lack a complete set of written surge policies, including screening plans to segregate contaminated patients and staff prior to entering the hospital. Few hospitals have agreements with nursing homes or home healthcare agencies to provide care for patients discharged in order to clear surge beds. If some of the assumptions in the CDC's models are changed to match the morbidity and mortality rates reported from the 1918 pandemic, the surge capacity of GDAHA facilities would not meet the projected demand.
The GDAHA hospitals should test their regional distributors' ability to resupply PPE for multiple facilities simultaneously. Facilities should retrofit current air exchange systems to increase the number of potential negative pressure rooms and include such designs in all future construction. Neuraminidase inhibitor supplies should be increased to provide treatment for healthcare workers exposed in the course of their duties. Each hospital should have a complete set of policies to address the special considerations for a prolonged surge. Additional capacity is required to meet the predicted demands of a threat similar to the 1918 pandemic.