The US can manufacture ventilators faster than it can increase the nation’s supply respiratory therapists, pulmonologists and critical care specialists to run them. According to a report by the New York Times, hospitals across the country are facing a shortage of RTs and other ventilator-trained clinicians for the new surge of COVID-19 patients.
Now, many hot spots face a different problem: They have enough ventilators, but not nearly enough respiratory therapists, pulmonologists and critical care doctors who have the training to operate the machines and provide round-the-clock care for patients who cannot breathe on their own.
The explosion of cases in rural parts of Idaho, Ohio, South Dakota and other states has prompted local hospitals that lack such experts on staff to send patients to cities and regional medical centers, but those intensive care beds are quickly filling up.
Medical association message boards in states like Iowa, Oklahoma and North Dakota are awash in desperate calls for intensivists and respiratory therapists willing to temporarily relocate and help out.