Caring with Limited Resources During COVID-19

Updated July 13, 2020

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is placing unprecedented demands on America’s entire health care system. As the number of patients needing acute hospital care rapidly increases, hospitals may be challenged with significant shortages of staff and medical supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE), hospital beds, medicines and medical devices such as ventilators.

America’s hospitals are doing everything possible to enhance the availability of the vital tools and resources needed to care for patients during this pandemic. They are working with their suppliers to bolster their inventories as much as feasible. The AHA also is working with federal agencies and with Congress to bolster pandemic response resources, including advocating the use of the Defense Production Act and connecting manufacturers who can produce masks with hospitals and health systems through the “100 Million Mask Challenge.” Hospitals also are working closely with their state and local governments to access the Strategic National Stockpile and, where available, state government stockpiles. Moreover, they are working to increase hospital bed availability through surge capacity and coordinating with governmental partners on temporary alternative hospital sites (e.g., dorms, tents).

However, at times during the pandemic, front-line clinicians and hospital leaders may face extraordinarily challenging decisions about how to deploy limited staff and resources. Consequently, hospitals and health systems have expressed interest in tools and resources to help them apply consistent approaches to making these difficult decisions that are consistent with their organization’s values and their community needs.

Visit to view non-clinical COVID-19 resources, including the subpage Protecting Health Care Workers.

The AHA has compiled a list of resources, tools and sample policies that hospital and clinical leaders may find helpful in developing their own organization’s approach to caring for patients with limited resources or under crisis circumstances. This list will be updated on an ongoing basis given the ever-changing nature of the pandemic. 

Please note that the tools listed do not necessarily reflect the views of the AHA, nor do they constitute clinical advice from the AHA. Rather, they are meant to assist hospitals and health systems in devising or refining their own approaches.

COVID-19 Resources for Your Clinical Team

Below are resources for clinical teams as they prepare for and respond to COVID-19 in your community. For additional non-clinical resources, visit the American Hospital Association’s COVID-19 resource hub. Please note that the tools do not necessarily reflect the views of the AHA, nor do they constitute clinical advice from the AHA.


Ethical Guidance

Ethical Guidance in the COVID-19 Era


Capacity Planning

Capacity Planning Tools

Clinical Resources

Clinical Resources for Front-Line


Educational Resources

Educational Resources

Palliative Care

Communication and Palliative Care

Clinical Workflow and Policy


Clinical Workflow and Policy Resources

Resources from the Field


Well-Being Resources Addressing Resilience

Hear from Colleagues


Hear from Your Colleagues



Licensing and Accreditation Resources

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