Coronavirus: How local hospitals are using central hubs to prepare for surge

Premier Health’s newly opened central referral center will play a key role in the system coordinating patients during an anticipated surge in the coming weeks from the coronavirus outbreak.

The Dayton-based health system includes Miami Valley Hospital, Miami Valley Hospital North and Miami Valley Hospital South, Atrium Medical Center, and Upper Valley Medical Center, as well as other outpatient sites and practices.

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The Dayton Daily News was given a tour of the regional referral center at 1611 S. Main St. that is home to a hub of workers (spaced at least six feet apart) coordinating patient referrals and movement into and around the health system. On Tuesday afternoon at the center, display boards posted capacity for each hospital and each unit in the hospital on the walls around the staff.

Candy Skidmore, VP of Service Integration for Emergency, Trauma, CareFlight Air & Mobile, EMS Center of Excellence, said it’s good timing that Premier’s center opened up in the fall because the system is going to be moving patients not only through the system, but also into the tertiary care center Miami Valley Hospital will be taking patients into from smaller hospitals during the outbreak.

“As we see things beginning with this pandemic, and … the expectation of potential surge, it’s going to be critically important that we’re able to do that quickly because we have a lot of community rural hospitals out there that are dependent upon us to be able to help manage these patients and move them through,” Skidmore said.

Kettering Health Network also has a network command center. The network’s hospitals are Kettering, Grandview, Sycamore, Southview, Greene Memorial, Soin, Fort Hamilton, Troy and Kettering Behavioral Medicine.

Brenda Kuhn, chief quality officer for Kettering Health Network, previously said they have a central operations network command center letting them watch patients and volume around the system, so they can watch things like ER volume, isolation rooms and ventilators, and then as that volume changes “that we can respond as appropriate.”

While it is an evolving situation, and the predictions change as disease modelers learn more, the state is preparing for about 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 a day at the peak of Ohio’s outbreak, according to the Infectious Disease Institute at Ohio State University.

Without Ohioans going to extremes to keep their physical distance, the highly contagious virus would have ramped up to a sharp peak of around 62,000 cases per day for a peak that would have happened late March, according to the OSU researchers.

With a predicted surge coming, this means area hospitals have to prepare for a surge in incoming patients through their ER and through referrals.

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During this surge, Premier will also be getting other types of patients, such as people with strokes, heart attacks and other emergency health needs that can’t wait.

“So the ability to also manage those patients, and juggle them is really important in terms of making sure that they get the care they need, get to the right place, get transported as quickly as we can get them here, all those things are still happening despite the pandemic going on,” Skidmore said.

The hospitals are also reporting their information to the state and to the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association as they monitor capacity.

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