Each time communities experience surges of Covid-19, concerns arise over the availability of hospital and intensive care unit beds in affected regions. To monitor ICU capacity, several states have begun to track and publicly report hospitalization rates and the availability of intensive care unit beds.
In our zeal to understand how our health systems are coping with Covid-19, a key issue is often overlooked: human capacity. Contractors can build new hospitals in a week. But training competent doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and other clinicians to work in intensive care units takes years. If we build ICU beds, patients will come. But who will care for them?