Dealing with a hospital bed shortage amid the coronavirus pandemic - British Herald
August 5, 2020

Dealing with a hospital bed shortage amid the coronavirus pandemic

The rapid global spread of COVID-19 at this unprecedented rate has highlighted the shortfalls of public health systems in terms of dealing with increased patient capacities. 

Doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and other frontline workers have been battling it out, working overtime to deal with the tsunami of patients coming in. 

Hospitals are running short of beds for their patients, of isolation wards to keep people suspected of having the virus in quarantine and space in their intensive care units- and this is a major problem. This indicates that COVID-19 is clearly getting out of hand and if not brought back into control, could escalate to dire consequences. 

Countries facing the strain have brought out inventive ways to deal with this acute hospital bed shortage and here are a few of them listed below:


Starting closer to home, a temporary hospital will be opened at East London’s 900,000 sqft ExCel exhibition centre in the coming week, with the surge in coronavirus cases. This is a new temporary hospital to be dubbed the NHS Nightingale hospital. This hospital set up in the ExCel Centre is expected to be equipped with 500 beds with ventilator and oxygen provisions. The capacity can be expanded to several thousand beds too if need be. British Health Minister Matt Hancock said that this temporary hospital will be having two wards which can each hold 2,000 people. 


Heading on out to the epicentre of the coronavirus, the surge of case numbers forced authorities to quickly scramble and convert sports stadiums, convention halls and cultural complexes into temporary hospitals to treat the affected. It must be reported that the makeshift hospitals mostly deals with patients exhibiting mild symptoms only. 

The city also built two hospitals in a period as short as 10 days in a state of panic. 


Indonesia converted four out of ten towers in the “Athlete’s Village” built for the 2018 Asian Games into an emergency hospital which can accommodate up to 4,000 patients. The facility is said to be able to house over 7,000 people, including a coronavirus task force, medical staff and up to 4,208 patients.


The Singapore General Hospital has gone ahead and converted its multistoried car park area into a zone to screen incoming patients for fever. There has been a surge of patients and the allocation of a separate zone for screening manned by health professionals can manage the crowds coming in to get tested. 


Across the U.S., various sectors are collaborating to manage the coronavirus pandemic and the shortage of hospital beds. In New York City, many hotels are being used as quarantine locations and to house healthcare workers in between long shifts. Also, the Javits’ Center is set to be converted into a 250-bed temporary hospital. A temporary medical facility has also been set up in the Santa Clara Convention Centre, again to deal with mild cases of coronavirus. In the capital of Washington, tents had been pitched onto a soccer field to offer basic care to those suffering. 

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