Why We Weren’t Prepared: America’s Hospitals and the COVID-19 Crisis

Michael Sparer
Michael Sparer
Columbia University

Michael Sparer is a professor and the Chair of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is a two-time winner of the Mailman School’s Student Government Association Teacher of the Year Award, as well as the recipient of a 2010 Columbia University Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching. He spent seven years as a litigator for the New York City Law Department.

Overview

Why were American hospitals so unprepared for COVID-19? Much concern has been spent on the fear that the number of ill in America would exceed our hospitals’ capacities to care for them. This would lead to many unnecessary deaths as it did in Italy. In fact, in the first weeks of April, many news sources highlighted a fear that medical supply shortages might be coming and hospitals could be lacking; personal protective equipment, respirator masks and even hospital beds. Some expired supplies were even sent by the Federal government to states in need. How did the health care industry in the world’s wealthiest country get here?

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