The Light at the End of the Tunnel was an Oncoming Train: A Community Hospital's Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic


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The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have not been strictly relegated to large population centers. Community hospitals in smaller cities have dealt with the same issues of patient volume and supply constraints. Baptist St. Anthony’s Hospital is a 450-bed community hospital in Amarillo, Texas. Our response to the pandemic centered around three key areas: PPE supply, therapeutic resources, and employee health. Corporate supply chain centralization allowed for bulk orders and associated savings even given the early national supply shortages. Therapeutic resources such as virus testing, ventilators, negative pressure room availability, and cohorted patient rooms were monitored daily and required preparation of contingency plans and surge planning. Medication availability, recommended therapy, and protocols were managed by an interdisciplinary team including Pharmacists, Hospitalists, and Intensivists. A scarce resource protocol was developed in the event Crisis Standards of Care were required. Finally, Employee Health managed employee exposures with rapid testing, contact tracing in the hospital, employee quarantine, and return to work policies based on CDC recommendations. Patient volumes, demographics, and community hotspots were monitored by Quality and Incident Command Teams to predict hospital volumes, resource requirements and reporting to the Bi-County Health Department, CDC, and later HHS. The policies and procedures developed during the early months of the pandemic now serve as lessons learned for the current pandemic resurgence.



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