Evaluating medical capacity for hospitalization and intensive care unit of COVID-19: A queue model approach

Grace Hsiao Hsuan Jen, Shey Ying Chen, Wei Jung Chang, Chiung Nien Chen, Ming-Fang Yen, Ray E. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The surge of COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe respiratory conditions and a large number of deaths due to the shortage of intensive care unit (ICU) in many countries. Methods: We developed a compartment queue model to describe the process from case confirmation, home-based isolation, hospitalization, ICU, recovery, and death. By using public assessed data in Lombardy, Italy, we estimated two congestion indices for isolation wards and ICU. The excess ICU needs were estimated in Lombardy, Italy, and other countries when data were available, including France, Spain, Belgium, New York State in the USA, South Korea, and Japan. Results: In Lombardy, Italy, the congestion of isolation beds had increased from 2.2 to the peak of 6.0 in March and started to decline to 3.9 as of 9th May, whereas the demand for ICU during the same period has not decreased yet with an increasing trend from 2.9 to 8.0. The results showed the unmet ICU need from the second week in March as of 9th May. The same situation was shown in France, Spain, Belgium, and New York State, USA but not for South Korea and Japan. The results with data until December 2020 for Lombardy, Italy were also estimated to reflect the demand for hospitalization and ICU after the occurrence of viral variants. Conclusion: Two congestion indices for isolation wards and ICU beds using open assessed tabulated data with a compartment queue model underpinning were developed to monitor the clinical capacity in hospitals in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S86-S94
JournalJournal of the Formosan Medical Association
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Capacity
  • Compartment model
  • COVID-19
  • Intensive care unit
  • Queue model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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