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March 03, 2020 (Cleveland)

Coronavirus Preparedness Activities Underway in Northeast Ohio

Coronavirus PreparednessThe Center for Health Affairs is working closely with hospitals and public health officials on coronavirus preparedness as the situation continues to evolve rapidly. The Center’s emergency preparedness director is in ongoing communication with key hospital contacts, including public information officers, emergency managers and infectious disease specialists, sharing updates daily from public health officials at the state and federal levels.

As part of this effort, The Center has launched new resources to help hospital leadership remain informed. These include a webpage, updated weekly, as well as a new weekly e-communication especially for board members and hospital c-suites.

According to a webinar presented last week by the American Hospital Association, experts are suggesting hospitals prepare for a disease burden substantially greater than a severe flu season and that they would be advised to consider the following:
  1. Hospital staff need to feel safe coming to work. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued recommendations for conserving supplies of N95 respirators now, to ensure sufficient quantity if there is an outbreak. Experts suggest paying especially close attention to making sure staff are fully trained in the proper procedures for donning and doffing personal protective equipment (PPE).
  2. Keep staff family members informed and ensure they are receiving information from reliable resources, like federal, state and local public health officials.
  3. Clinicians need to be informed about current case definitions to ensure effective evaluation. With information changing rapidly, it is important clinicians have the latest available recommendations. Experts suggest relying not on printed resources, but rather on providing access to e-resources, and they advise hospitals to invest ahead of time in necessary technology.
  4. Activate incident command and evaluate surge plans now. Before any increase in local activity occurs, review plans for accommodating a surge in patients. Convene appropriate groups, consider additional best practices and solutions, and monitor PPE supplies daily.
  5. Consider workforce needs. Redundancy of essential employees will be necessary in the face of a diminishing workforce should illness begin to spread in the community. Determine which employees can telecommute and also be prepared for the impacts of quarantine.
  6. Take steps now to secure equipment and pharmaceutical supply chains. Northeast Ohio hospitals are being asked to report shortages, particularly those involving PPE, to The Center for Health Affairs, which is forwarding this information to state health officials as part of the chain of communication up to the federal level.
  7. Connect with community partners. All hospitals are a part of a local coalition designated by the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and should be communicating now with local partners. Since the emergence of coronavirus, The Center for Health Affairs, which is the federally designated ASPR coordinator for the region, has been engaged in daily communication and providing linkages between hospitals, public health and other community agencies.
Hospitals can expect to continue receiving critical information as it comes out from public health, which is leading the charge on coronavirus preparedness and response. 

For more information on coronavirus preparedness efforts, contact us.

Tweetable: The Center for Health Affairs shares expert recommendations for hospitals as part of coronavirus preparedness efforts.