Hospital Emergency Planning in COVID-19 Era
Covid-19 has brought never before imagined challenges to the world. As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc in several countries across the globe, the preparedness of hospitals for the influx of critically ill patients will be the most important factor in humanity’s fight against this invisible enemy. Below are some suggestions for an improved approach to hospital management.
Switching the leadership mode from conventional to the crisis
Hospital Incident Command (HIC) should have different staff sections managed by a full-time section chief. The following sections can be included:
- Operational command
- Staff management and administration
- Situational report
- Communication and press
- Technology and logistics
- HIC should hold meetings on a fixed schedule. A situational report should be prepared, and there should be a discussion and assessment of the same to identify problems and develop solutions.
- HIC should analyze their past decisions and devise new strategies for improvement by learning from their mistakes.
Carefully monitoring internal and external factors
Both external and internal factors must be carefully monitored to make crucial decisions.
The internal factors:
- The number of COVID-19 patients.
- The number of non-COVID 19 patients.
- Treatment capacity for COVID-19 patients.
- Status of space, staff, and supplies.
The external factors:
- Epidemiological development of COVID-19.
- Hot Spots of Transmission.
- New scientific research and developments.
- Regulation by authorities.
One of the biggest consequences of the pandemic is the acute shortage of ICU capacity, staff, masks, ventilators, and other necessary resources, which is hamstringing the heroic efforts of health care professionals around the world. It is therefore important for hospitals to determine which treatments to postpone during the pandemic. The decision can be tough but categorizing on the basis of treatment urgency is the need of the hour. The decision should be taken by the treating consultant in consent with a board of consultants.
While treating the Covid-19 patients is important, it is also important to stop or at least control the spread of the virus. For this purpose, there should be an infection-prevention team to focus on the protection of healthcare workers and non-COVID patients from coronavirus infection. The team should focus on devising strategies for:
- Shortage of personal protection supplies.
- Investigating exposures.
- Controlling the spread within the hospital.