Health system needs surge protectors

U.S. Army field hospital.

U.S. Army field hospital.


Adapted from Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary,'' in

Rhode Island and many other states have more hospital beds than they need most of the time. So here and elsewhere, some hospitals are  being closed or being turned into entirely outpatient operations. Consider the recent closing  of the inpatient part of Memorial Hospital, in Pawtucket, with considerable local anger.

But what happens when a big epidemic, such as  the current flu outbreak, or a sudden disaster, such as the Station nightclub fire, strikes?  That Rhode Island,  and the rest of New England, has an older demographic than most of America and thus a higher percentage of people who could get very sick, makes us particularly exposed.

Where do you put all these very sick and/or injured people in times of widespread medical emergencies? Instant hospitals under tents, such as on battlefields?

Our health "system'' needs surge protectors.

Suggestions appreciated.