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Some concerned health care system could be overwhelmed as elective surgeries resume

Posted at 2:22 PM, Jun 01, 2020

We heard a lot about flattening the curve during the beginning of the pandemic. It had to do with making sure hospitals didn't get overwhelmed with patients sick from the virus.

Stay-at-home orders and canceling elective medical procedures were necessary. Now, there's a second curve researchers are concerned about flattening.

It has to do with what's expected to be a rush on the health care system when all those procedures that were put on hold get rescheduled.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University are studying what's happening in real-time. They are also able to point to some past events that might give them an idea of what could happen.

In the case of Ebola, patients didn't come back in for elective surgeries and treatments right away.

“You started from very low but then very, very quickly that rebounded at a very surprisingly fast pace,” said Tinglong Dai, a professor at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

So, as more states restart elective procedures, the curve and demand on the health care system will go up and researchers suggest if not prepared, it could catch them off guard.

Plus, with concerns about a second wave of the coronavirus, there's potential to reach capacity.

“On the supply side, you could have nurses getting sick, doctors getting sick and in fact you may not have enough testing because even now we don’t have enough testing,” said Dai.

The research is looking at what's happening right now in Johns Hopkins dermatology with nearly all skin cancer treatments on hold.

They hope to come up with the best models to flatten the curve on elective procedures to help reduce the negative implications on patient outcomes and added costs. They hope to have the papers ready by January.