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Report examines potential hospital bed shortage and other H1N1 concerns (10/6)

October 6, 2009
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Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) released a new report on October 1 that finds 15 states could run out of available hospital beds during the peak of the outbreak, if 35 percent of Americans were to get sick from the H1N1 flu virus, according to a TFAH press release. Twelve additional states could reach or exceed 75 percent of their hospital bed capacity, based on estimates from the FluSurge model developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the new report, H1N1 Challenges Ahead, the number of people hospitalized could range from a high of 168,025 in California to a low of 2,485 in Wyoming, and many states may face shortages of beds or may need to reduce the number of non-flu related discretionary hospitalizations due to limited hospital bed availability. The numbers of people who get sick could range from a high of 12.9 million in California to a low of 186,434 in Wyoming, if 35 percent of Americans were to get H1N1.

“Health departments and communities around the country are racing against the clock as the pandemic unfolds,” said Jeff Levi, Ph.D., executive director of TFAH. “The country’s much more prepared than we were a few short years ago for a pandemic, but there are some long-term underlying problems which complicate response efforts, like surge capacity and the need to modernize core public health areas like communications and surveillance capabilities.”

The report examines other H1N1 outbreak concerns the country faces this fall related to vaccines, antiviral medication, health care, and special needs of at-risk communities, and offers both short- and long-term recommendations for addressing H1N1 concerns.

The full report, including a chart with state-by-state information on illnesses, hospitalizations, and flu vaccination rates, is available on TFAH’s Web site www.healthyamericans.org. The report was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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