Planning for a surge in adult patients during the pandemic taught Akron Children’s Hospital lessons it plans on applying to the level of care it provides for kids.
As area hospitals prepared for a potential surge of adult coronavirus patients, Akron Children’s included, the hospital’s pediatric specialists quickly jumped in, ready to serve.
“Governor DeWine asked Ohio’s hospitals to prepare for an influx of COVID-19 patients by increasing bed capacity by 300-400%,” said Dr. Shefali Mahesh, director of Pediatric Nephrology and Medical Staff vice president. “For hospitals in our region that meant planning for 6,000 inpatients and an increase in 1,700 beds.”
Pivoting to adult care
Akron Children’s quickly put plans in place to evolve its staffing models and care guidelines to pivot to adult patients. In one week, 244 pediatric providers were credentialed to treat adults. Further, training protocols were developed to ensure staff members were comfortable providing care to adults. The hospital’s Simulation Center was instrumental in these training and verification initiatives.
The hospital’s planning efforts included ensuring an adequate supply of ventilators. In response, the Respiratory Care staff ensured 2 patients could be placed on one ventilator and Anesthesia and Pain Medicine staff established a plan to use anesthesiology equipment as ventilators.
While the surge plans were not ultimately activated, they were still an important lesson in preparing for the unknown, including worst-case scenarios during a pandemic.
Collaboration at the speed of trust
“We are blessed to live in a land of surplus,” Dr. Mahesh said. “This exercise made us think of how to provide the highest quality care with limited resources.
“Collaboration moves at the speed of trust – the culture of Akron Children’s prevailed through this adversity.”
Some of the lessons learned will be applied to future building projects. One example is the use of negative air pressure systems to control the spread of airborne viruses.
“We are already thinking differently in how we approach renovations in the Mahoning Valley Emergency Department,” said Dr. Laura Pollauf, director of Emergency Medicine. “Applying the lessons learned will impact the care we provide to kids and help to move our pediatric services forward.”