5 hospital and health system leaders discuss their organization's pandemic response

As COVID-19 continues its worldwide spread, it is clear the pandemic is nowhere near over. The public health crisis has put many hospitals' disaster preparedness plans put to the test. In recent months, healthcare organizations have raced to keep up with surges in new coronavirus cases and worked to find solutions to supply shortages.

During a June 9 webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by medical technology company BD, five hospital and health system leaders discussed how their organizations have responded to the pandemic and what they've learned so far.

Key quotes from the discussion:

1. Michael Meekins, PharmD, Director of Pharmacy Operations at Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., on pivoting operations during the pandemic:

"We learned a great deal from our telehealth colleagues on how to be able to work virtually, efficiently and effectively, which I think really contributed to our overall success, or the success that we perceived that we had, as we set up all of our incident command centers. But then, after the first two-to-three weeks, we were all hit with the gravity that this is something we're going to be dealing with for quite a while and we really need to learn to try to pace ourselves a little bit better."

2. Susan Mashni, PharmD, Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, N.Y., on handling a coronavirus patient surge:

"Unfortunately, in New York, we did experience somewhat of [an] apocalypse. The patients came fast and furious … and basically within a couple of weeks our hospitals became 100 percent COVID. We had intensive care beds anywhere from endoscopy to all of our [post-anesthesia care units], [to] places that had maybe formally been operating rooms … We partnered with a group, Samaritan's Purse, and we developed 68 beds in tents in Central Park. Even 12 [intensive care unit] beds were part of those tents. It was really unbelievable that that was able to happen in such a quick period of time."

3. Russ Funk, PharmD, CEO of Pharmaceutical Operations at Banner Health in Phoenix, Arizona, on supply chain challenges:

"We put a group of individuals on point to be looking for the supplies because as ventilator requirements when up, we really needed those ventilator meds, the propofols, the neuromuscular blockers. So, we really had to be very vigilant in ordering them as soon as they became available and making sure we had the right communications so that each hospital could get their order in depending on whether the drug was allocated or whether we had other restrictions around it."

4. Becky Fox, MSN, RN-BC, Vice President and System Chief Nursing Informatics Officer at Atrium Health System in Charlotte, N.C., on making sure patients feel safe coming back to the hospital for care:

"We have continued to share with the public that we are still here, and you can get great care through virtual services. We're continuing to market and message that there are easy ways that you can still do your routine check-ups, get your meds refilled, have a touchpoint, have a visual connection with your provider. If you do need to come in and see a provider, we also have taken [safety] steps, like many organizations, so instead of waiting in a waiting room, we can have you wait in your car, [we can text] you [and then] tell you 'okay now is the time to come in.'"

5. David Webster, Associate Director of Pharmacy Operations and Assistant Professor of Clinical Community and Preventative Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, N.Y., on the importance of teamwork:

"It was incredible to see how much all of our teams and clinicians supported each other at work … because we all worked long days and are still working long days and hours and helping each other out … There's no time for silos, there's no departmental conflicts around whether we get something done ... But, supporting each other outside of work was also very critical and something we can't overlook even going forward."

Learn more about BD here, and view the webinar here.


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