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National emergency should help hospitals care for more COVID-19 patients

Posted at 10:02 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 23:49:10-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — President Trump's nation emergency declaration Friday should improve the ability of state and local governments to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, providing up to $50 billion in federal aid to combat the global pandemic.

The deceleration empowers the Department of Health and Human Services secretary to give hospitals and health care provides flexibility in preparing for an influz of patients and how to treat them.

"It eases a lot of the regulations in health care that restrict us from expanding our ability to care for excess patients," Dr. Marc Larsen of St. Luke's Hospital System said. "We are able to use or re-purpose facilities and use treatment facilities that we otherwise wouldn't have been able to use for patient care."

Restrictions that could be lifted include allowing hospitals to bring on additional physicians to help manage an influx of patients and allow doctors to convert non-intensive care rooms for intensive care patients.

"Every patient that stays a night in the hospital, for example, has to have a window looking outside," Larsen said. "Those regulations are going to be relaxed so we can care for patients in a much more relaxed and effective way."

Trump also asked every hospital in the country to activate its emergency preparedness plan, which St. Luke's has been meeting about during the last several weeks.

"For a long time, we've kind of felt like we were at this alone, and I feel like today watching that press conference, finally there is going to be some assistance from the federal government to assist in our operations planning," Larsen said.