Flu Pandemic study finds Cape region 1,000 hospital beds short

GlobeHospital bed shortage seen if a flu pandemic hits
Officials map plan in southeast Mass. which is 1,000 beds short

By Carolyn Y. Johnson, Globe Staff, February 16, 2006

If a flu pandemic strikes the state, Southeastern Massachusetts will be roughly a thousand hospital beds short of the projected need, according to data presented at a statewide flu summit by Governor Mitt Romney , who asked the Legislature to set aside $36.5 million to beef up medical resources.

State and local public health officials are planning for when, not if, a catastrophic influenza will hit the state, as the avian flu virus has continued to spread across Asia and Eastern Europe, and was confirmed for the first time in Africa last week. The emergency planning is spurred by the possibility that the deadly strain will mutate, spreading from person to person and sparking a worldwide epidemic.

According to the state's projection, a pandemic would likely infect 2 million, send 80,000 to the hospital, and kill 20,000 people in Massachusetts over a six-to-eight-week period.

On a regional level, those numbers mean that by one measure -- the number of available hospital beds -- the communities south and west of Boston, inside the Interstate 495 belt will be overwhelmed by the surge of patients. The rest of the state, on the other hand, is fairly well supplied, with a cushion of surplus of beds in northeastern Massachusetts and Boston...

Overall, the state will have 23,705 available beds -- about 145 more than needed in the model flu scenario, according to Romney's presentation. But in the southeastern region of the state -- an area that stretches south from Randolph to the tip of Cape Cod -- Romney's study found only 3,283 beds, including emergency overflow beds, while there is a need for a thousand more. In a belt of suburbs that stretches south and west of Boston, extending as far west as Interstate 495, there are 4,534 beds, but about 500 more are needed.... read the read of thge Globe story here, and comment below.

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