Challenges Faced By Healthcare Industry during Covid-19
When the pandemic of 2019 hit, it didn’t leave any sector unharmed. The COVID immensely impacted the healthcare sector, more so than other sectors. There were piling cases, overworked practitioners, machines used to their capacity, and depleting resources. There was a severe need for intervention, but there was no solution in sight. The healthcare industries suffered globally. There were reported cases of hospitals turning away patients, and the suffering did not end there. The healthcare sector suffered tremendous losses, which are essential to learning. To help you understand, you need to deep dive into the challenges the healthcare industry faces. Here’s what the industry is going through during COVID-19:
Practitioners are the backbone of the healthcare sector. These professionals take care of patients to the best of their abilities. Unfortunately, the healthcare sector had to face too many patients in a short time. Practitioners had to pull extra shifts with no end in sight. As a result, practitioners had hit the pinnacle of exhaustion. They were tired, scared, and even tried to care and not get cared for. Some healthcare professionals collapsed on the job, which means the work had to get divided even more. While this was too much to ask for, there was no other solution.
Shortage Of Staff
Not every patient coming for a checkup had COVID. Some patients also needed routine checkups. Doctors didn’t have spare time to look after every patient, so some nurses had to take over. Nurse practitioners are assets in the endeavor. There is a difference between nurse vs nurse practitioner; one of the two is highly skilled and can step in for physicians. Nurse practitioners are the best substitute for physicians. These nurses specialize in caring for patients in a more informed manner. Shortage of staff meant nurses had to play the role of doctors and nurses. It was a challenge for the healthcare industry to find a way to balance between practitioners and nurses. Despite nurses taking care of routine patients, it was still not easy to fix the shortage in staff.
Hospital resources are imported, while countries like China make ample medical supplies, integral for the healthcare system. When the pandemic struck, supply chains were also hit. That means hospitals had to make do with what little resources they had. Initially, there was enough to cater to all the practitioners. However, as time passed and there was no vaccine in sight, resources started depleting. There came the point where nurses and doctors had to reuse resources or create makeshift PPEs. These are dangerous, although they are specialized equipment that prevents pathogens from infecting a practitioner. Makeshift PPEs and reused PPEs are risky. Consequently, practitioners also got infected due to a lack of PPEs.
Discarding These Resources
Hospitals were producinglarge quantitiesof biohazards, including body fluids from COVID-positive patients as well as disposable PPEs. These wastes cannot be disposed of regularly. They cannot go into a regular dumpster in polythene bags. There was a need to get rid of these wastes in specialized loads. The purpose of these bags was to hold medical equipment and supplies to prevent pathogens from spreading. However, that leads to dumpsites getting filled with these biohazard trash bags. Lighting them on fire was not a solution, even though it is the fastest way to curb the escalating crisis. Biodegradable waste cannot decompose either. It takes time for any plastic bag to get removed from the earth’s surface safely. So without intending to, the healthcare sector also began contributing to the pollution in the environment. These also may have contributed to the rise of corona cases with more pathogens in the atmosphere.
Lack Of Equipment and Rooms
Patients who showed intense symptoms needed ventilators. Some of these patients also needed a room in the ICU. These facilities work in a specific capacity. As time went on, it became difficult to accommodate the growing number of patients. Hospitals had to make the difficult decision of choosing between patients and wheeling them into intensive care. Some patients also had to get turned away, which took a toll on the healthcare sector. However, there wasn’t much that could be done. So the healthcare industry had to face patients within the hospital and even outside of it. It was becoming increasingly difficult for the healthcare sector to develop policies when the virus was still on a rampage. While the public health sector tried to mainstream policies and methods of social distancing, it still wasn’t enough. Cases were still on the rise, and despite the social measures, they weren’t stopping anytime soon.
Families Refusing Treatment
Healthcare is expensive. Not every family has or can afford insurance. The private rooms and machines that were required were not easy to obtain. Most families waived the right to treatment to avoid paying heavy bills even if it endangered their health. Some families couldn’t afford the price of getting treated after getting treatment. Hospitals had to introduce a policy where they cut down the cost of treatment, putting them in a difficult position because hospitals need these funds to provide proper care. Families who refused treatment also became a walking hazard. They were spreading the virus even more without knowing they were contributing to the rising cases. Anyone who dies of the virus can only get handled by the hospital—another factor taking a significant toll on the healthcare system.
Morgues Getting Overfilled
Hospitals at times have to hold on to bodies before the families can have them. No one anticipated so many deaths at one time. Consequently, morgues were overfilled with bodies that were not safe to dispatch. There came the point where hospitals had to hold on to these bodies in a very morbid manner. Any cooling facility got used as a makeshift morgue. Not only was this dangerous, but it was also increasing the risk the healthcare sector was under. However, nothing could be done to deal with the rising bodies.
Invest In Emergency Telehealth
The COVID forced hospitals to look at telehealth. However, making such an extensive database work in such a short time was a challenge of its own. Telehealth was not easy to get up and operate. There were many logistical errors and technical faults that needed attending. There was also an immense amount of money required to make the possibility of telehealth a reality. None of which was easy. It also pushed hospitals to consider how so many families could not afford the internet and another remedial method needed to apply.
The healthcare sector faced many challenges because of the pandemic—these challenges made providing and sustaining care hard for the industry. The healthcare staff had to confront the reality that the pandemic was the most expensive disease they encountered. There was a massive shortage in supply and no end in sight. There were also rising cases, fatigued healthcare staff, and not even resources. Hospital facilities were becoming redundant, and patients were still showing no signs of recovery. All of these factors, when worked in unison, collapsed the healthcare system.
Biswajit Rakshit is a professional blogger and writer. He loves to write on various topics.