Patient care in rapid-expansion intensive care units during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis

BMC Anesthesiol. 2022 Jul 7;22(1):209. doi: 10.1186/s12871-022-01752-z.


Background: The coronavirus-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic highlighted the unfortunate reality that many hospitals have insufficient intensive care unit (ICU) capacity to meet massive, unanticipated increases in demand. To drastically increase ICU capacity, NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center modified its existing operating rooms and post-anaesthesia care units during the initial expansion phase to accommodate the surge of critically ill patients.

Methods: This retrospective chart review examined patient care in non-standard Expansion ICUs as compared to standard ICUs. We compared clinical data between the two settings to determine whether the expeditious development and deployment of critical care resources during an evolving medical crisis could provide appropriate care.

Results: Sixty-six patients were admitted to Expansion ICUs from March 1st to April 30th, 2020 and 343 were admitted to standard ICUs. Most patients were male (70%), White (30%), 45-64 years old (35%), non-smokers (73%), had hypertension (58%), and were hospitalized for a median of 40 days. For patients that died, there was no difference in treatment management, but the Expansion cohort had a higher median ICU length of stay (q = 0.037) and ventilatory length (q = 0.015). The cohorts had similar rates of discharge to home, but the Expansion ICU cohort had higher rates of discharge to a rehabilitation facility and overall lower mortality.

Conclusions: We found no significantly worse outcomes for the Expansion ICU cohort compared to the standard ICU cohort at our institution during the COVID-19 pandemic, which demonstrates the feasibility of providing safe and effective care for patients in an Expansion ICU.

Keywords: COVID-19; Critical care; Epidemiology; ICU outcomes; Intensive care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Critical Care
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics*
  • Retrospective Studies