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Allen Miller, Principal & CEO, COPE Health Solutions Elizabeth DuBois, DNP, FNP-BC, AAHIVS, Vice President, COPE Health Solutions Margaret Peterson, PhD, Executive Consultant COPE Health Solutions

COVID-19: How Hospitals and Health Systems Can Brace For a Pandemic

By Allen Miller, Principal & CEO, COPE Health Solutions
By Elizabeth DuBois, DNP, FNP-BC, AAHIVS, Vice President, COPE Health Solutions
By Margaret Peterson, PhD, Executive Consultant, COPE Health Solutions

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Original Publish Date: March 26, 2020

As the United States’ COVID-19 confirmed caseload and resultant mortality grow, public anxiety continues to heighten with disease incidence and fears that hospitals may soon meet and exceed capacity. Hospitals are now trying to manage a changing demand for services under the unique and unpredictable conditions presented by the pandemic.

This crisis triggers a cascade of activities hospitals must undertake to activate new protocols and committees, shore up resources and materials, establish communication plans and enact a myriad of other steps to transition into emergency mode. This includes adherence to the federal Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA) guidelines to not turn away or redirect COVID-19 patients and/or any persons who suspect they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Increased pressures coming from patients, staff, physicians and the general public put hospitals in a challenging position, requiring new strategies to address patient concerns while mediating an alarmed workforce.

Hospitals must plan now to navigate four (4) key challenges:

1. Staffing shortages

Mitigation Opportunity: Augment the workforce with non-clinical staff and re-prioritize tasks

Mitigation Opportunity: Increase outreach and prevention

Mitigation Opportunity: Support vulnerable populations and/or staff through home delivery of supplies needed during quarantine

2. Administrative overload and planning volume

Mitigation Opportunity: Add project management and planning support

3. Uncertain and quickly changing environment

Mitigation Opportunity: Dedicate an internal “czar” with deputies for 24/7 coverage

Mitigation Opportunity: Develop a communication plan

Mitigation Opportunity: Leverage data analytics and reporting

4. Disruption of standard workflows

Mitigation Opportunity: Implement process design

In Summary

Hospitals and health systems will need to embrace planning efforts immediately even if severe cases do not start showing up for weeks. Expect in the coming days additional guidance and details on the types of waivers the Trump administration will allow. “Business as usual” will no longer be an option for American health systems but amidst the uncertainty, hospitals and health systems can take steps to improve the circumstances around our new reality.

For additional information on how to prepare your hospital or health system for COVID-19, please contact Allen Miller, Principal & CEO, at or 310-386-5812 or Elizabeth DuBois, DNP, MSN-BC, AAHIVS, Vice President, at or 213-369-0571.