How hospital partnerships can better prepare healthcare leaders for crises

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At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospital staff in New York City wore garbage bags as personal protective equipment, patients in California emergency rooms overflowed into ER hallways and Missouri nurses worked twice the normal number of shifts to make up for sick co-workers. Here's how partnerships can better prepare hospitals for the next disaster, according to a May 11 article by The Verge.

As the pandemic slows, healthcare leaders have the opportunity to reflect on how they can be more prepared for future crises. Instead of pouring money into expanding resources, partnerships can work as a collaborative network and a shoulder to lean on.

Six ways partnerships can improve healthcare during a crisis:

  1. When small hospitals were overwhelmed with patients, staff struggled to find a larger hospital to transfer patients to. Since there is no data system that offers visibility into how many beds or resources are available at other hospitals, staff had to call hospitals individually to find space for patients.

  2. Hospitals in affluent neighborhoods are more likely to have stockpiles of supplies on which they can rely and are not obligated to share with other hospitals. A partnership would encourage these hospitals to take a collaborative approach to supply.

  3. Some hospitals and health systems are already partnering and reporting the benefits. Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland-based University Hospitals severed a historical rivalry when they began collaborating shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic.

  4. Both CEOs said their hospital partnership has been mutually beneficial. With their resources combined, they felt their health systems were better aligned to be awarded grants, citing winning a training grant from the National Institutes of Health.

  5. They said their partnership enables recruitment because when they recruit spouses and one health system cannot hire both, they can look for a position in the other system.

  6. Their partnership can improve non-competitive arenas, such as supply chains and laundry. It could also result in an increase in meaningful research output by combined resources and research professionals.

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