Navigating COVID-19 as a System

Premier Pulse     May 2020

Colon_336x336By Roberto Colón, MD, system vice president of quality and safety, Premier Health 

When a cluster of atypical pneumonia cases was first reported in the Wuhan Province of China in late December 2019, few of us considered the possibility that cases would turn up in the United States. Now, less than five months later, we have seen more than one million cases in our country. In Ohio alone, we have seen more than 32,000 patients with COVID-19. Sadly, more than 100,000 patients have already died in the United States. And while we were fortunate that quick actions helped stave off a potentially devastating surge in cases, this disease has left a lasting impact.

Each one of us has been affected by this pandemic - some, more directly than others. We have known colleagues who have endured the battle against this disease and have helped hundreds of patients through this infection. To date, Premier Health hospitals have discharged more than 100 admitted patients with COVID-19 and have cared for many more who have experienced milder forms of the illness. Our care teams have also directly helped several nursing facilities in our area manage outbreaks of COVID-19 within their walls.

While the journey has not been an easy one, our medical staffs came together as a system to combat this crisis. Early on, our physician teams, led by Steven Burdette, MD, and various critical care physicians, rapidly developed comprehensive treatment algorithms shared across all our facilities. In conjunction with our partners at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Community Blood Center, we were able to stand up a convalescent plasma treatment program that has successfully treated more than 30 patients across our hospitals. This program has been so successful that it was joined by other community hospitals in our area and has even supported care of patients as far away as Wisconsin. Our patients have benefited from additional novel therapies such as tocilizumab, eculizumab and Remdesivir. As more evidence evolves, we continue to adjust our treatment strategies.

Never had we imagined that we would have to worry about sufficient resources to care for patients. However, during this outbreak, we have continuously managed looming shortfalls in supply lines for PPE. Flexibility by our sourcing department and innovation from our new community partners have helped us navigate these challenges while ensuring that we continue to maintain a safe environment for our health care providers to care for patients.

As we now emerge from our restrictions, we have started new programs to help ensure safety of patients and health care personnel. On May 11, universal testing of labor and delivery patients began across Premier Health facilities as did widespread screening of elective surgical procedures. We have since added universal testing to all patients in our facilities as well.

We cannot predict what lies ahead, as we emerge from the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whatever comes, just as we did with this pandemic, we will face it together. Words cannot express how proud we are of the work you do every single day, and how grateful I am to have you all as colleagues.

Back to the May 2020 issue of Premier Pulse

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