April 6, 2020 / SELENA SIMMONS-DUFFIN
Hospitals are trying to make their own disinfectant from in-house chemicals, running low on toilet paper and food, and trying to source face masks from nail salons.
Those are some of the findings from a snapshot survey of how America’s hospitals are handling the coronavirus crisis. The survey was done over five days — during the week of March 23 — by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General. Ann Maxwell, who oversaw the report as assistant inspector general for evaluation and inspections, says it’s “the first objective, independent, national look at how hospitals are addressing the COVID-19 response.”
Maxwell says her office worked fast to get this report done. Dozens of staffers working on it called 323 hospitals around the country. “We asked them for just 15 to 20 minutes of their precious time,” Maxwell says. Administrators answered questions about their biggest challenges, their strategies to address those challenges and how the government could better help.
“It’s an incredibly comprehensive report done on very short notice,” says Gerard Anderson, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management. He adds it’s significant that the report is coming from this office, since others in the federal government “tend to listen very closely to somebody like the inspector general.”