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Hospital Catchment Areas Characteristics and Geographic Regions Associated With Higher COVID-19 Veterans Health Administration Hospitalization During the Omicron Surge.
Wong MS, Frochen S, Steers WN, Washington DL. Hospital Catchment Areas Characteristics and Geographic Regions Associated With Higher COVID-19 Veterans Health Administration Hospitalization During the Omicron Surge. Journal of public health management and practice : JPHMP. 2023 Sep 1; 29(5):E198-E207.
Surges in the ongoing coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) pandemic and accompanying increases in hospitalizations continue to strain hospital systems. Identifying hospital-level characteristics associated with COVID-19 hospitalization rates and clusters of hospitalization "hot spots" can help with hospital system planning and resource allocation.
To identify (1) hospital catchment area-level characteristics associated with higher COVID-19 hospitalization rates and (2) geographic regions with high and low COVID-19 hospitalization rates across catchment areas during COVID-19 Omicron surge (December 20, 2021-April 3, 2022).
This observational study used Veterans Health Administration (VHA), US Health Resource and Services Administration's Area Health Resources File, and US Census data. We used multivariate regression to identified hospital catchment area-level characteristics associated with COVID-19 hospitalization rates. We used ESRI ArcMap's Getis-Ord Gi* statistic to identify catchment area clusters of hospitalization hot and cold spots.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS:
VHA hospital catchment areas in the United States (n = 143).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
Greater COVID-19 hospitalization was associated with serving more high hospitalization risk patients (34.2 hospitalizations/10 000 patients per 10-percentage point increase in high hospitalization risk patients; 95% confidence intervals [CI]: 29.4, 39.0), fewer patients new to VHA during the pandemic (-3.9, 95% CI: -6.2, -1.6), and fewer COVID vaccine-boosted patients (-5.2; 95% CI: -7.9, -2.5).We identified 2 hospitalization cold spots located in the Pacific Northwest and in the Great Lakes regions, and 2 hot spots in the Great Plains and Southeastern US regions.
Within VHA's nationally integrated health care system, catchment areas serving a larger high hospitalization risk patient population were associated with more Omicron-related hospitalizations, while serving more patients fully vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19 and new VHA users were associated with lower hospitalization. Hospital and health care system efforts to vaccinate patients, particularly high-risk patients, can potentially safeguard against pandemic surges.Hospitalization hot spots within VHA include states with a high burden of chronic disease in the Great Plains and Southeastern United States.