How Minneapolis hospitals are preparing for Super Bowl LII

The Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots aren't alone in preparing for Super Bowl LII. Ahead of Sunday's game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, area hospitals have coordinated plans for possible influxes of patients.

Preparation efforts began about a year and a half ago between all 32 metro area hospitals, the City of Minneapolis, emergency medical services, local public health, local emergency management and other healthcare facilities, according to Mark Lappe, emergency manager at Minneapolis-based Hennepin County Medical Center. He says planning has primarily focused on emergency rooms and the potential for any patient surge situations.

Separately, HCMC began its own planning efforts in June. Those efforts consisted of a multidisciplinary group that prepared for the potential effects of the game and game-related activities, given the facility's close proximity to the stadium, says Mr. Lappe. HCMC then put together contingency plans and tactics that went into effect Jan. 26. HCMC also has a command center, where a daily briefing takes place.

"We discuss what concerns we have for the next 24-hour operational period, and we modify or change any contingency plans or tactics we've been working on, or certain plans are activated certain days," he says.

HCMC is planning for a possible 10 percent increase in EMS call volume over the 10-day festival related to the game, and has recommended other metro area hospitals do the same. The medical center also increased staffing in its ED.

Mr. Lappe doesn't expect the game and game-related activities to have much effect on inpatient utilization. However, he says some hospitals are seeing significant inpatient numbers for patients with flu symptoms, so HCMC is keeping a close eye on bed capacities and available beds, as well as hospital ED diversion reports.

"We've worked really closely with all of our healthcare networks in the metro region. They're aware there may be requests for services and potential unusual requests from even maybe VIP-type status [people]," Mr. Lappe says. "Then obviously we'll have a lot of celebrities in the area besides the football players, so there's always the possibility there, too."

Mr. Lappe says the 32 metro area hospitals — which include the level I trauma centers at HCMC, North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, Minn., Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., and Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in Minneapolis — were told if a public health emergency occurs close to their hospital, they should expect a potential patient surge.

As of Monday, after teams arrived in town, hospitals hadn't had any major concerns of any clusters of illness or needs, he says. That continues to be monitored.

"We've been tracking and trending our available bed statuses for the last 15 days, so we've got a good trend of knowing where we're at for available beds and staffing," Mr. Lappe says. "And, our Regional Hospital Resource Center is doing daily situational report where they collect data from hospitals and push out reports to everyone so we know capabilities in real time."

Overall, he says, the goal is ensuring essential information is communicated in an efficient and rapid manner with all healthcare systems and response partners. This includes the metro hospitals, EMS, local public health and local emergency management.  He feels confident those connections are in place, and that hospitals can respond efficiently as a result.


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