Confronting Coronavirus: How Hospitals Are Transforming in Coronavirus Fight

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Here are some of the latest ways hospitals, health systems and others are adapting operations to stem the pandemic surge.

Virtual Protection for Clinicians

MarinHealth has outfitted more than 90 rooms, including 10 intensive care unit beds, with special equipment that enables physicians, nurses and other personnel to deliver much of the patient care virtually from multiple stations situated throughout the facility and to combine multiple tasks into a single in-person visit. Banyan Medical Systems, Omaha, Neb., has pledged to provide telehealth equipment to outfit 1,000 inpatient rooms in hospitals across the nation at no charge for 90 days. And a new AHA resource provides tips on the use of virtual care in all settings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leveraging AI

Stanford researchers and clinicians are exploring whether artificial intelligence could help manage a potential surge of COVID-19 patients and identify patients who will need intensive care before their conditions deteriorate. Using an off-the-shelf algorithm, they are working on how to carefully integrate it into clinical operations. New York University and Chinese researchers have created an artificial intelligence tool that may help physicians predict which patients will develop severe lung disease, even if they initially have a mild case of the novel coronavirus.

Make Room

Like a number of other cities trying to create more space and beds to treat COVID-19 patients, Detroit has begun converting its largest convention center to a 900-bed field hospital while trying to find enough professionals to staff the facility. For cities and states considering such conversions, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Alternate Care Site report provides resources to consult when converting hotels, arenas and closed hospitals to care sites. The Center for Health Design helps connect hospitals and hotels with urgent space needs to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The AHA’s American Society for Health Care Engineering offers a COVID-19 concept study from HKS Architects that provides considerations for using hotels for COVID-19 patient care and sequestration, potential room conversions and more.

In-house Labs Lead

More hospitals and academic medical centers, including Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y., are turning to their own labs to develop in-house COVID-19 tests to bypass the long wait for results. But a dwindling supply of reagents necessary to perform the tests is proving to be challenging.

Solving Mask Shortages, Rapid Testing

Harvard’s Wyss Institute researchers are developing a disposable COVID-19 test that uses a lateral flow device — similar to a home pregnancy test — that is easy to manufacture on a large scale and can be handled without special equipment or expertise. They’re also working with Beth Israel Deaconess, other Harvard-affiliated hospitals and corporate partners to develop solutions to help solve the shortage of nasopharyngeal swabs and N95 face masks. More than 50 Under Armour volunteers, from materials scientists to footwear and apparel designers, have developed a no-sew mask to fight COVID-19, as well as gowns, face shields and specially equipped fanny packs for the University of Maryland Medical System’s 28,000 health care providers and staff. The company is also discussing supply needs with MedStar, Johns Hopkins Medicine and other medical institutions.

Hospital-Supplies Exchange Program

Stanford Health and supply chain risk management company Resilinc this month will launch a trading platform for hospital supplies. In partnership with UPS and Premier, the companies created a cloud-based platform where hospitals can identify and exchange critical medical supplies if they find inventory imbalances.

Step-down Sites Step Up

Partners HealthCare will soon launch a new center for patients recovering from COVID-19 at Spaulding Hospital for Continuing Medical Care, a long-term care hospital in Cambridge, Mass. The center will have 60 beds and accept patients from Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, Allina Health, which operates 11 hospitals, is partnering with Presbyterian Homes & Services to convert a 50-bed skilled nursing home to a step-down site. The goal is to help COVID-19 patients recover so they can return to nursing homes or senior living communities.

COVID-19 Triage Blueprint

The acute surgery division at Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., developed a systemwide tiered plan for marshaling limited resources. Read “Maximizing the Calm Before the Storm: A Tiered Surgical Response Plan For Novel Coroavirus (COVID-19),” soon to be published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Early Detection

The University of California San Francisco is arming 2,000 front-line health care workers with the Oura smart ring for potential early detection of COVID-19 symptoms. The Finnish startup is sponsoring research at UCSF to study whether physiological data collected by the Oura ring, combined with responses to daily symptom surveys, can predict illness symptoms.

COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine scientists recently announced a potential vaccine delivered through a fingertip-sized patch against the coronavirus. The paper appeared in EBioMedicine. In a joint venture with the Biomedical Advance Research and Development Authority, Johnson & Johnson is investing $1B for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Human clinical trials could begin as early as September with a goal of the first batches being made available for emergency use authorization by early 2021.

Ventilator Innovation

A Northwell Health team found a way to convert bi-level positive airway pressure machines, which are usually used for sleep apnea or COPD, into ventilators that could assist a COVID-19 patient. Northwell Health also is 3D printing an adapter it needs to make this conversion work, and it plans to share the design with other providers to ease shortages.

Ventilator-Related Drug Shortage

Vizient identified the potential shortages among 13 drugs found in three drug classes crucial to the use of ventilators:

  • Sedatives and anesthetics: 51% increase in demand for March; fill rate has dropped to 63%.
  • Analgesics: 67% increase in demand for March; fill rate has dropped to 73%.
  • Neuromuscular blockers: 39% increase in demand for March; fill rate has dropped to 70%.

COVID-19 Care Guidance App

Apple has released an app that offers a series of questions to determine if someone should seek care for COVID-19 symptoms. Users can download the app for free from Apple’s App Store.

Business Community Steps Up to Help Providers Respond

Here are some of the latest developments in how business partners are helping hospitals and health systems respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Courses for Coping

The Columbia University Department of Psychiatry and AllenComm, a custom training solutions provider, have partnered to develop free online courses to help people cope with isolation and anxiety during the COVID-19 lockdown. Hospitals and health systems are free to offer these resources to their communities, including hospital employees and their families.

Talkspace Donates Free Therapy

Talkspace is donating 1,000 months of free online therapy to U.S. health care workers who are on the front lines responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Free Inventory Tracking Tool

Jump Technologies has opened its inventory management platform free of charge during this crisis for hospitals looking to track critical inventory such as PPE items. With less than an hour's worth of work from hospital supply chain staff, JumpTech can provide you with the means to view the data to see where inventory is located, who is consuming the inventory and how the material is performing against allocation.

The AHA COVID-19 website has the latest tools and resources to help hospitals and health systems respond to the pandemic.

We want to hear from you! Please send your feedback to Bob Kehoe at rkehoe@aha.org.

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