Care Disruption During COVID-19: a National Survey of Hospital Leaders

Ashley Huggins, Mustafa Husaini, Fengxian Wang, Rj Waken, Arnold M. Epstein, E. John Orav, Karen E. Joynt Maddox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic caused massive disruption in usual care delivery patterns in hospitals across the USA, and highlighted long-standing inequities in health care delivery and outcomes. Its effect on hospital operations, and whether the magnitude of the effect differed for hospitals serving historically marginalized populations, is unknown. Objective: To investigate the perspectives of hospital leaders on the effects of COVID-19 on their facilities’ operations and patient outcomes. Methods: A survey was administered via print and electronic means to hospital leaders at 588 randomly sampled acute-care hospitals participating in Medicare’s Inpatient Prospective Payment System, fielded from November 2020 to June 2021. Summary statistics were tabulated, and responses were adjusted for sampling strategy and non-response. Results: There were 203 responses to the survey (41.6%), with 20.7% of respondents representing safety-net hospitals and 19.7% representing high-minority hospitals. Over three-quarters of hospitals reported COVID testing shortages, about two-thirds reported staffing shortages, and 78.8% repurposed hospital spaces to intensive care units, with a slightly higher proportion of high-minority hospitals reporting these effects. About half of respondents felt that non-COVID inpatients received worsened quality or outcomes during peak COVID surges, and almost two-thirds reported worsened quality or outcomes for outpatient non-COVID patients as well, with few differences by hospital safety-net or minority status. Over 80% of hospitals participated in alternative payment models prior to COVID, and a third of these reported decreasing these efforts due to the pandemic, with no differences between safety-net and high-minority hospitals. Conclusions: COVID-19 significantly disrupted the operations of hospitals across the USA, with hospitals serving patients in poverty and racial and ethnic minorities reporting relatively similar care disruption as non-safety-net and lower-minority hospitals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1232-1238
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2023


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