HAP Blog

Another COVID-19 Surge? Apply Lessons Learned to Prepare Now

April 16, 2021

A potential fourth surge of COVID-19 continues to be a key concern for hospitals, many of which are monitoring upward trends while also running vaccine clinics. Now is the time to evaluate capacity management plans and see where we can apply lessons learned to improve them.

Here are four considerations for your surge plan evaluation and improvement:

First, be reflective and look at the areas that your hospital utilized for the increased capacity of COVID-19 patients during November and December of 2020. Ask your team these questions:

  • Did those areas utilized for surge work satisfactorily or did you think you would change things if given a second chance?
  • Did you already convert some of your environmentally adapted areas that housed COVID-19 patients back to their regularly designated usage? Are those areas, and the individuals who did the conversions, able to re-introduce those changes if the need arises?
  • Do you have areas that you are utilizing for treating COVID patients in the outpatient realm? Such as areas where monoclonal antibodies are being administered. Those areas already may have trained staff with COVID-19-appropriate personal protective equipment, and an environment with appropriate air flows and air exchanges. Areas such as these may be a good alternative for your incident command to keep in mind if the need arises

Second, two important parts of the incident command structure include planning and evaluation. This time may present an opportunity where an evaluation of a previous surge could immediately aid planning for a potential upcoming capacity event.

Third, be sure to include all the appropriate parties in your conversation:

  • Infection control
  • Facilities and engineering
  • Emergency managers
  • Supply chain
  • Clinical managers
  • Risk managers
  • Public information officers

Fourth, many hospitals can add factors into the COVID-19 equation that they may not have previously considered:

  • More staff are vaccinated
  • Room conversions may already be in place. Portable air scrubbers and HEPA filters  already may be purchased
  • PPE may be more readily available and the hospital workforce is more comfortable in their daily use of such measures

With so many hospitals doing a great job of allocating resources and staffing to assist in the vaccination efforts, let’s continue to practice situational awareness and preparation in the case of another surge hitting our communities.

HAP’s emergency management team is ready to support hospitals in assessing their readiness for another COVID-19 surge. For more information, contact Chris Chamberlain, HAP’s vice president, emergency management, or Ryan Weaver, HAP’s emergency manager.

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