The initial global outbreak of COVID-19 revealed cracks in pandemic preparedness - from PPE to ventilators and oxygen, hospitals and skilled healthcare workers were stretched the brink in often physically and emotionally gruelling environments. Emerging variants and under-vaccination threaten future waves of the virus. Is your hospital ready?
New cases and hospitalisations in many countries that have previously claimed victory over the virus have been rising due to an apparently stronger and more contagious Delta variant.
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Valuable lessons from the pandemic's first wave have provided hospitals clear ways to refine their processes and improve preparedness. Hospital leaders and health experts listed some suggestions (adapted) in a recent article in ProPublica:
- UTILISE WIDESPREAD TESTING to quickly spot a COVID-19 resurgence, as early detection is key in containing spread of the virus.
- STOCK UP NOW ON PPE and other supplies.
- MAKE A FLEXIBLE PLAN to quickly move staff members and equipment from one virus hot spot to another.
- ORGANISE A SAFE CARE PLAN for patients who don't have COVID-19 and are afraid of contracting it at a hospital.
- PROVIDE MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES for front-line staff members who may have witnessed an unprecedented amount of trauma and death.
- DEVELOP SECURE HOSPITAL VISITOR POLICY to allow regular hospital care and visits.
Strict no-visitor policies may have produced other unintended consequences, according to Robert Wachter, MD, chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. "We didn't fully understand how important that was for patients, how much it might be contributing to some people not coming in for care when they really should have," says Dr. Wachter.