Scarcity In The Emergency Room : The Indicator from Planet Money Emergency rooms all over the country are struggling with limited resources: masks, ventilators, hospital beds, doctors. We talk to one ER doctor in New York about how she is managing those resources right now.

Scarcity In The Emergency Room

Scarcity In The Emergency Room

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ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images
Medical workers outside at Elmhurst Hospital Center in the Queens borough of New York City  (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

As much as coronavirus is a health story, it has also been a story of scarcity: scarcity of test kits, masks, medicine, ventilators, doctors, nurses, hospital beds... the list goes on.

Economics is the study of how to best allocate limited resources... and that is exactly what emergency rooms across the country are trying to figure right now. Most have decided to divert resources to parts of their operation that deal with COVID-19 infection. Even then, in many cases, there aren't enough resources to go around. So hospital administrators and healthcare workers are performing a kind of triage on their COVID-19 operations, too, deciding who gets a ventilator, who gets a bed, and who gets a test. And, of course, who doesn't.

We spoke with Dr. Jessica van Voorhees, an emergency room physician at New York Presbiterian Methodist Hospital, to find out how doctors are dealing with issues of scarcity... and what COVID-19 looks like on the ground.

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