Hill-Burton State Agencies report that 3,327 of the 6,716 general hospitals in the nation have 272,000 beds requiring modernization or replacements. Of the total, 70,000 require complete replacement.
Surgeon General William Stewart said in a letter to Rep. Richard Ottinger (D, NY) that replacement or modernization of beds was not the only answer to the problem.
"Development of alternative care facilities, earlier preventive treatment, increased and more readily available outpatient services—all of these may offer a better solution to a given hospital's problems," he said.
Dr. Stewart said 143 hospitals in the survey were classed as critically overcrowded. They experienced average annual occupancy rates of 90% or more of reasonable capacity, and there were inadequate alternative facilities in their communities.
He said another 1,289 hospitals had occupancy rates of between 80% and 90%, "substantially above the national average."
"Any hospital experiencing an average annual occupancy rate of 90% or more