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How Corona Virus Changed America's Healthcare System

When the coronavirus hit the east coast of the United States in early March, the interfaith medical center unexpectedly found itself on the front lines. The hospital's modest stone buildings serve the low-income community in Brooklyn. When New York became the National Center for Diseases and the city was closed, Covid-19 patients began to arrive.

"It was stressful. Tired. We see very sick people walking through our emergency departments," says Larry Brown, CEO of One Brooklyn, a newly formed medical group that includes Interfaith, not just for me but for all staff. As of mid-April, Interfaith and sister hospitals have treated more than 1,600 hospitalized patients with the disease.

However, Brown is concerned about the poor financial situation of the hospitals under his responsibility. "We run on the fumes," he says, still smiling as he removes his mask for a video interview. "We could have five or seven days of cash on hand; we celebrate if it's more than 14."

As the coronavirus spreads through the United States, it has also devastated the nation's healthcare system. Even with the $ 175 billion ransom money, many hospitals are facing a severe cash shortage because they have had to cancel the elective measures they rely on to earn money.

Bankruptcy attorneys are preparing to increase filings. When US GDP figures for the first quarter were released, one of the biggest obstacles to the US economy was the drop in healthcare spending, accounting for about 40 percent of the overall decline. Of consumption. Some of the poorest companies have had to give much-needed employees time off, even during the pandemic, because they cannot afford to pay their wages.

The United States spends far more on health care than any other country: $ 3.6 trillion a year, more than 17 percent of its GDP. People from all over the world come for treatment in the best medical centers, and some of them are world leaders in innovation. Many of these well-funded hospitals have been successful in requesting significant resources to handle the current surge in demand. The United States has more coronavirus cases than any other country and more than 55,000 deaths.

But the pandemic has also exposed deep inequalities in the health system, both for hospitals and for patients. Scenes from hospitals in the world's richest countries turning to beauty salons desperate to find protective gear or to try to make their own bleaching materials have highlighted the chaos and stress that healthcare providers are subjected to.

"When we look back, we will see this moment that revealed some of the imbalances and inequalities in the American healthcare system," says Adam Gaffney, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a physician of pulmonary and intensive care. "We have a healthcare system that is completely fragmented and privatized that is still failing us."

As the crisis progresses, money is time. It should have taken One Brooklyn a week to open its new six-bed intensive care unit in response to the coronavirus. But a lack of funds meant that the $ 700,000 expansion took three weeks. Brown had to spend millions on additional equipment, hiring agency employees and raising employee salaries so that they were not hired.

Canceling elective procedures, such as non-urgent dental and surgery appointments, reduced admissions. "We've spent about $ 7.2 million so far, and this is money that we don't have," he says.

Lack of coordination at the national level, with individual states issuing different medical guidelines and competing with each other to secure protective equipment, has also hampered these efforts. In the United States, public health authorities are often separated from private hospitals, adding to the challenge of scaling a collective response.