Responding to COVID-19 Pandemic

Premier Pulse     May 2020

By Mikki Clancy, system vice president, oncology

Our disaster planning teams did not expect to put their pandemic plans in place during 2020. Handling a pandemic is something Premier Health hospitals and the community have practiced multiple times over the past few years. Practice helps us get started but each disaster brings unique situations that must be handled. The Incident Command System (ICS) is a nationally proven way to handle not only a disaster but also keep as many normal operations in place as possible.

On March 13, Premier Health issued a system-wide Code Yellow which put in place the Incident Command System. Normally, the ICS is only put in place at a hospital level, but this unprecedented situation warranted a system-wide incident command. Once the Code Yellow was activated, the roles of the ICS chart (Incident Commander, Medical Staff, Liaison to Government and External Community Coordination, Public Information Officer, Operations, Planning, Logistics, Finance, Community Associations, Security, Legal, CompuNet Lab, and Documentation) were assigned, and work began.

Each arm of the ICS was charged with developing plans and activities to handle operations across the system and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of us saw the multiple process changes, operational changes, government mandates, surge planning, Premier-wide tracking, and communications that occurred over the past several weeks but may not have known these were handled in a very organized and nimble way.

Our System ICS also worked 24/7 in an almost entirely virtual way through Microsoft Teams to ensure social distancing and comply with the state’s Stay at Home Order. This method was extraordinarily effective to allow for complex dialogue and planning. We were able to connect the hospitals, Premier Physician Network, and Fidelity incident command leaders to the system incident command through a virtual chat that allowed for very quick communication with each other to report issues, clarify information, and stay informed of our progress.

The end result of our System ICS was tremendous. We were able to accomplish the following:

  • System-wide communication and coordination
  • Modify the operations of more than 140 processes and procedures
  • Close and reschedule all state-mandated elective surgeries and procedures
  • Increase the use of telehealth and e-visits, as well as stand up new capabilities
  • First to implement a testing collection center in our region in partnership with the University of Dayton, as well the first to implement ant ibody testing
  • Innovate with business partners to provide much needed PPE, other necessary supplies, and coordinate numerous donations
  • First in the nation to provide convalescent plasma treatment using the Mayo Clinic’s protocols

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been an unprecedented time and Premier Health has been able to weather the situation in a calm, organized, and highly innovative manner thanks to our strong teams, partnerships, and community coordination. Thank you to all who helped in leading the way in delivering outstanding care to our community.

Back to the May 2020 issue of Premier Pulse

Premier Health Logo