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Hospitals Prepare for the Next Pandemic

a nurse in ppe walks past a coronavirus testing pod sign
(Michael Cooper/AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 09 June 2020 03:59 PM

Hospitals are already gearing up for a resurgence of the coronavirus and the possibility of other viral pandemics in the future.

New York City hospitals have already implemented changes to ensure they will be ready and able to cope with the next viral wave which many experts say is coming this winter.

"The second wave could be even more serious," said Robert Redfield, M.D., director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to Prevention.

"There's a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be more difficult than the one we just went through," he said.

According to The Wall  Street Journal, hospitals across the nation are turning to high-tech strategies to ensure that patients and staff are safer with measures such as contactless registration, robots equipped to take vitals and other information, and seamless flow from check-in to follow-up, avoiding as much human contact as possible.

"We have to operate a hospital within a hospital," said James Linder, chief executive of Nebraska Medicine, explaining the health and welfare of all patients, from stroke victims to newborns to those infectious diseases, need to be considered. 

Here are some ways hospitals are improving performance and protection for both patients and staff alike, according to the Journal:

  • Emergency room staff could assess a patient's medical condition remotely, using telemedicine and digital devices. Robots, equipped with an iPad, could meet patients for initial screenings and thermal-imaging cameras could take temperature and respiratory readings.

  • Robots could also assist in obtaining and moving supplies around the premises to avoid unnecessary contact.

  • Elective surgery and maternity patients could register in advance via remote devices and allowed entry into a separate hospital entrance, away from the emergency department. Doctors and nurses would have their own entrance.

  • The rooms themselves would have advanced filtering systems to contain the spread of disease. Infected patients could share a single room equipped with separate access to oxygen and other equipment. Doctors can monitor these patients with video conferencing, and again, bots could assist in bringing supplies into the rooms.

  • Upon discharge, patients would have access to their medical records and have devices that monitor blood pressure and heart rate. Physicians could track their condition remotely. Mobile pods could be set up on hospital grounds that are equipped to take care of contagious patients, outside the hospital building itself.

According to the Journal, Memorial Health System, which serves parts of Ohio and West Virginia has already implemented software called Zero-Contact Intake that allows patients to check in with their mobile devices and tells them when a room is ready. Maternity patients do not enter through the ER door and are met with staff in the parking lot who check their temperatures and escort them to obstetrics.

"We believe all these initiatives have prepared us for any future infectious disease surges and would expect very minimal interruptions to patients care," Missy Freeman, Memorial's director of patient care, told the Journal.

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Hospitals are already gearing up for a resurgence of the coronavirus and the possibility of other viral pandemics in the future.
hospitals, pandemic, covid-19, robotics, medical, technology
Tuesday, 09 June 2020 03:59 PM
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