Podcast | What COVID-19 exposed in our ailing health care system

The pandemic presented new challenges to U.S. health care. Two experts discuss where the system failed, as well as the advancements spurred by the virus.

A clinician and patient in a hospital room

Kevin Barrett, in quarantine after his former hospital roommate tested positive for COVID-19, sits in bed as he recovers from an injury as registered nurse Scott McGieson looks at records in the room in the acute care unit of Harborview Medical Center, Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

For more than two years now, talking about health care in the United States has really meant talking about COVID-19. And yet, health care is so much more than a single virus. And while much of the country watched the dashboards showing the peaks and valleys of COVID infections, hospitalizations and deaths, there were many other statistics that shifted into the background, as stress and delay warped the health care system. 

It wasn’t as if that health care system was perfect in the first place. The pandemic has both exposed and intensified existing problems in our hospitals, including access for some Americans and deep inequities when it comes to race. The pandemic also created new problems, including shortages of supplies and equipment early on, and now, as the country presses through a fourth virus surge, shortages of hospital staff. 

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While much of the country attempts to move past the pandemic, the health care industry has no such luxury as health care professionals face continued challenges posed by the virus.

For this episode of the Crosscut Talks podcast, recorded in early May during this year’s Crosscut Festival, journalist Will Stone interviews two of those professionals, Amazon Chief Medical Officer Vin Gupta and Washington Hospital Association CEO Cassie Sauer, about the past two years of sustained stress on the health care system, examining the cracks it has exposed, as well as some silver linings.  


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