On May 20, 2020, HealthLeaders presented a webinar featuring a roundtable discussion of some of the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. A recording of the webinar is available here.
Moderated by Benjamin Zaniello, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer at Collective Medical and infectious disease physician, this webinar highlighted insights from Jennifer D’Angelo, Senior Vice President and General Manager at the New Jersey Innovation Institute; Liz Whitworth, MPH, Managing Director at Oregon Health Leadership Council and HIT Commons; and Enrique Enguidanos, MD, FACEP, MBA, CEO/Founder of Community Based Coordination Solutions (CBCS).
The Importance of Having a Plan
D’Angelo spoke about the importance of creating a plan in the face of COVID. She and her team had to constantly communicate and pivot to be able to implement and adjust initiatives that would keep both staff and patients safe at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center in Northern New Jersey—the fourth largest hospital in the nation and an area with high rates of positive COVID cases.
Even though healthcare is often among the last to adopt remote work, Bergen soon realized that leveraging telemedicine services and implementing a work from home protocol for staff could further the efforts to keep everyone safe, help prevent the spread of coronavirus, and preserve personal protective equipment. Having a protocol in place that focused on time management guidelines, appropriate technical support, and solutions for maintaining cybersecurity helped make the transition smoother.
Additionally, D’Angelo discussed how Bergen put a plan in place to help ensure that social isolation wasn’t lonely for long-term care residents after visitors were restricted. Supplying devices such as iPads allowed patients to stay connected to family members.
Expanding Efforts through Care Collaboration
Whitworth focused on using care collaboration across Oregon—including 60 hospitals, all Medicaid CCOs, every major commercial health plan, primary and behavioral providers, post-acute facilities, and more.
Through the use of real-time information, Oregon has been able to quickly and effectively identify presumptive diagnoses and closely monitor the spread of the pandemic. Whitworth described how a stakeholder workgroup was organized to discuss new developments weekly and make plans accordingly.
Addressing Social Determinants of Health
Enguidanos discussed caring for particularly vulnerable patients affected by social determinants of health during the COVID-19 pandemic. He talked about the importance of engaging community resources such as hospitals, primary care providers, law enforcement, behavioral health centers, and housing authorities to successfully create a common approach.
Finding appropriate sheltering options while keeping social distancing in mind was a big challenge, particularly in the Seattle area. His organization was able to take advantage of newly available buildings like schools, libraries, and hotels that were open and willing to provide sheltering options. Enguidanos designed how using reverse isolation protocols helped increase capacity and prevent the spread of COVID.
Enguidanos shared that many vulnerable patients struggle with substance use disorder (SUD). He noted that many resources, such as medication-assisted treatment options, became less accessible during the pandemic. By establishing mobile treatment vans, maintaining strong Narcan efforts, and leveraging telemedicine when possible can help ensure that SUD patients are getting the support they need to continue in their recovery.
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