The role of physician-owned hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic

Physician Hospitals of America said its membership is ready to mobilize to treat patients in the areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The physician-owned hospitals that are members of PHA can serve as additional capacity in communities that need excess hospital and ICU beds to treat patients with the coronavirus. Many physician-owned hospitals focus on surgical procedures, including orthopedics and heart procedures; as acute care hospitals fill with COVID-19 cases, patients with other life-threatening conditions could be treated at the physician-owned hospitals.

"By taking steps now, as public health officials uniformly call for unprecedented action to 'flatten the curve,' physician-led hospitals are prepared to assist in the fight to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, based on local needs. POHs have been and will continue to comply with and promote CDC recommendations," according to a PHA statement released on March 17.

POHs are also ready to expand if necessary to serve their communities. There is a moratorium on the expansion of physician-owned hospitals, but U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and others have pushed for legislation that would allow them to immediately expand capacity. New legislation could permit POHs to expand the number of operating rooms, procedure rooms or beds during the emergency.

The hospitals could also serve as drive-up or walk-up locations for COVID-19 testing or treat emergent surgical cases. They could also temporarily become birthing centers and treat trauma patients if necessary.

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