Dec 7, 2020
The state of California has long had fewer beds and lower staffing levels than the rest of the country, with only 1.8 hospital beds per 1,000 residents as of 2018. Shortages in California are also much worse than in the rest of the world. The country of Poland, for example, has three times the number of hospital beds per capita as California.
Hospital executives admit that this is a deliberate design.
“Having excess capacity—that you’re heating and lighting and cleaning and all of that stuff—is just antithetical to your efforts to be as cost efficient as possible, as lean as possible,” explained Nancy Foster, the American Hospital Association’s vice president for quality and patient safety policy to The New York Times (December 1).
In other words, hospital executives run hospitals in the same way they would run a restaurant, reducing staffing and tables, in order to optimize profits.
The drive to increase profits led the hospitals to create severe shortages of hospital beds and hospital staff even before the pandemic hit.
In the middle of the pandemic, these shortages have been catastrophic. As the number of patients due to the pandemic have mounted, many California hospitals have been turning seriously ill patients away, sending them home in what they call “hospital at home” programs—with few or no available doctors and nurses to treat them. This has cost untold lives that could have been saved if the patients had received the proper health care.
The novel coronavirus has exposed the health care system in California for what it is—a disaster in human terms. California produces and holds tremendous wealth. Its advanced science and research facilities are the envy of the rest of the world. But those who produce this wealth have no support from the very owners they enrich. Instead, the entire system is geared to profit off of the population’s illnesses.