Document Type

Master's Culminating Experience

Publication Date



Hospital surge capacity is a crucial portion of disaster preparedness planning within a community. The demands generated by a disaster require additional capacity, in the form of beds, equipment, personnel, and special capabilities. The scope and urgency of these requirements must be balanced with a practical approach addressing cost and space concerns. The advent of new infectious disease threats, particularly an avian flu pandemic, have reinforced the need to be prepared for a prolonged surge, lasting six to eight weeks, in addition to the shorter duration surges required for industrial accidents, tornados, chemical disasters and terrorists. Using a standardized data form, the surge capacity/capability plan for each hospital in the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association (GDAHA) was assessed in six areas and compared to the demand projected for an avian flu pandemic using the CDC’s FluAid and FluSurge tools.

Using the CDC’s models, the cumulative GDAHA capability exceeds the projected demand for bed space, ICU beds, ventilators, and morgue space. There is a shortage of negative pressure beds, basic equipment for some of the surge rooms, and neuraminidase inhibitors to treat healthcare workers contaminated in the course of their duties. Many facilities do not have screening plans designed to segregate contaminated patients/staff prior to entering the hospital and do not have a complete set of written policies to address various aspects of a sustained surge. Few facilities have agreements with nursing homes or home health care agencies to care for patients discharged early in order to clear surge beds. Most facilities had programs, such as child care, to accommodate their workers’ needs. However, most of the personnel surge plans were designed for short term events, such as a tornado or an industrial accident, and might not be sustainable for a prolonged surge. If some of the assumptions are changed in the CDC’s models, to match the rates reported from the 1918 pandemic, the surge capacity of GDAHA facilities would not meet the projected demand.