During a disease outbreak, healthcare workers (HCWs) are essential to treat infected individuals. However, these HCWs are themselves susceptible to contracting the disease. As more HCWs get infected, fewer are available to provide care for others, and the overall quality of care available to infected individuals declines. This depletion of HCWs may contribute to the epidemic s severity. To examine this issue, we explicitly model declining quality of care in four differential equation-based SIR-type models with vaccination. We assume that vaccination, recovery, and survival rates are affected by quality of care delivered. We show that explicitly modelling healthcare workers and accounting for declining quality of care significantly alters model-predicted disease outcomes, specifically case counts and mortality. Models neglecting the decline of quality of care resulting from infection of HCWs may significantly under-estimate cases and mortality. These models may be useful to inform health policy that may differ for healthcare workers and the general population. Models accounting for declining quality of care may therefore improve the management interventions considered to mitigate the effects of a future outbreak.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases