Getting help for a serious medical condition isn’t always easy, but it can be downright impossible during a pandemic. Patients in the Chicago area were sometimes left by the wayside while exploding COVID-19 cases took the focus, and things aren’t looking much better in the case of a second wave.
Over 23% of Chicago households reported an inability to get help for a severe medical problem during the spring surge. While some institutions are bracing for another outbreak, many more are still reeling from the flood of patients earlier this year. If beds start filling up again in the upcoming season, it may be hard to get the medical treatment you need.
While some hospitals are attempting to hire more staff in preparation, plenty are moving in the other direction after opening the year with large financial losses. The Cook County Health system alone is looking to save $187 million in their budget by closing clinics, cutting pediatric care and repurposing emergency rooms.
And these cuts will likely come with other costs. Hospital administrators reported extreme difficulties in getting patients the care they required as COVID-19 patients stressed the system, with nowhere to turn for relief.
Illinois doesn’t have a system in place to organize a flow of patients in case of overcrowding. The state doesn’t require hospitals to take on patients or even share information regarding vacancies. This could spell trouble when facilities opt to keep beds free for elective procedures, often a more lucrative patient, instead of offering the space to help those in dire need.
This could mean that if you’re facing a grave health concern, it could be an enormous undertaking just to find a facility that will provide you with the proper care. Getting the help you need may not be a guarantee when the system itself looks so unhealthy in the wake of the pandemic.