Dayton hospitals prepare for coronavirus outbreak

Dayton’s acute care hospitals have launched 24-hour incident command centers planning for the coronavirus outbreak and so far all reported they are not having any current capacity issues as they make big changes to ensure staffing and critical supplies are available.

Hospitals in other parts of the world and the U.S. that are further into the outbreak have been treating significant numbers of patients, prompting local health systems to brace for a coming increase in cases.

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Barbara Johnson, Premier Health chief operating officer, said they are taking steps to ensure adequate staffing and are trying to hold all meetings virtually and have suspended all business travel.

They took out the chairs in the cafeteria to help ensure social distancing and are working on internal and external child care options, Johnson said.

“While we have not had any admitted patients at any of our hospitals, we do have special isolation rooms in place for patients who we suspect might be sick with COVID-19,” Johnson said.

They have negative pressure rooms to prevent airborne bacteria from escaping and spreading to other areas of the hospitals.

They have an incident command centers and internal hotlines for employees with questions.

And they have telemedicine capabilities so patients can get their routine care remotely if appropriate for their situation.

Premier’s emergency departments will begin split screening where they have curbside triaging with tents so they can keep patients safely segregated based on symptoms.

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“Currently we are managing all volumes through the (emergency department) without disruption,” Johnson said.

In addition, they are managing personal protective supplies to ensure appropriate use, said Johnson.

They have stepped up cleaning and are deploying robots for deep disinfection at Premier. They are limiting points of access to ensure appropriate screening. Premier’s vendors are asked to curtail visits.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Brenda Kuhn, chief quality officer for Kettering Health Network, said the network has an incident command center running 24 hours to monitor any changes that are happening.

“This allows us to stay up with any changes that are happening and to put process in place,” Kuhn said.

Hundreds of workers are making adjustments so they have resources to do the process they are putting in place, such as visitor restrictions and screenings, Kuhn said.

Kunn 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.”

John Weimer, Kettering Health’s vice president of Network Emergency, Trauma and Operations Command Center, said they have provided additional education on the highest risk personal protective equipment.

Weimer said they have policies for staff around working with different types of patients’ conditions.

“As always, we are encouraging strong adherence to those protocols,” he said.

The system is also evaluating work-from-home options for employees who are not essential to patient care.

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“At this point we do not see this virus impacting children in a significant way,”

Deborah Feldman, president of Dayton Children’s Hospital, said.

She said they hope soon to have a better way to get answers to families with questions about the outbreak, because they have been getting a lot of calls to their emergency department.

The pediatric hospital is working to reduce the footprint of people coming into Dayton to protect patients and families and to protect their staff.

“We have to keep our caregivers healthy,” Feldman said.

They are reaching out to the 1,000 patients who come in each day for new visits and specialists and the providers are reaching out to determine the best way to address their care, such as a virtual visit. They are still seeing patients and taking care of other medical needs, Feldman said.

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