Triangle Hospital Surge Capacity

If a flu outbreak like the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic were to occur today, who would be unable to access care in North Carolina’s Triangle region? Geography student Rachel Woodul tackled this question for her honors thesis, consulting with the Research Hub Data Analyst to develop visual representations of three different simulations of hospital surge capacity in the event of a widespread influenza pandemic.

To visualize hospital capacity over time during the potential epidemic, Woodul consulted with the Research Hub Data Analyst on creating graphs using ggplot in R. For each of the three simulations of her model, Woodul prepared visualizations showing how many patients each of the Triangle area’s 12 hospitals could service over 800 days, and when they would reach capacity. The Data Analyst helped prepare the data and develop the ggplot2 code to generate the needed visualizations.

In Woodul’s thesis, the visualizations accompanied maps that she created to analyze individuals’ distance to hospitals, and ability to access finite resources, in the event of a widespread influenza pandemic. Her thesis, published in May 2018, won the Melinda Meade Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research from the UNC-CH Department of Geography.