Even during the peak of a pandemic, all patients requiring hospital and ICU admission can be served, including those who have non–influenza-related conditions.
In the Netherlands a major part of preparedness planning for an epidemic or pandemic consists of maintaining essential public services, e.g., by the police, fire departments, army personnel, and healthcare workers. We provide estimates for peak demand for healthcare workers, factoring in healthcare worker absenteeism and using estimates from published epidemiologic models on the expected evolution of pandemic influenza in relation to the impact on peak surge capacity of healthcare facilities and intensive care units (ICUs). Using various published scenarios, we estimate their effect in increasing the availability of healthcare workers for duty during a pandemic. We show that even during the peak of the pandemic, all patients requiring hospital and ICU admission can be served, including those who have non–influenza-related conditions. For this rigorous task differentiation, clear hierarchical management, unambiguous communication, and discipline are essential and we recommend informing and training non-ICU healthcare workers for duties in the ICU.