During the Democratic National Convention this week in Boston, area hospitals were on guard for potential problems, even a terrorist attack, after 18 months of drills and surge-capacity planning, said Betsy Stengel, executive director of the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals. So far, hospitals had not reported an unusual volume of patients or clusters of diagnoses, Stengel said. But funding their preparations has been problematic. Fourteen Boston-area hospitals have received no more than $200,000 in federal funds for bioterrorism preparedness since the money was allocated in 2003, Stengel said -- far short of their expenses. And hospitals received no extra state or local funds to prepare for the convention, she said. Preparations for the convention have been particularly intense at Massachusetts General Hospital, the designated site to provide care, if necessary, for presumptive presidential nominee John Kerry and his running mate John Edwards. "At this point, the endless hours of planning have been more strenuous than the execution of the plan," a hospital spokeswoman said. Meanwhile, healthcare continued to be a dominant theme at the convention, where Ron Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan, in a prime-time speech Tuesday night called for lifting federal restrictions on stem-cell research. Several Democrats rallied for covering the uninsured. -- by Jeff Tieman
From the convention floor: Hospitals' burden
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