Back to Newsroom A NIGHT IN NEW YORK: LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE COVID-19 RESPONSE Share On... by Air Methods posted May 08, 2020 By Aidan O’Connor, Jr.Northeast Sales Director, Air Methods The past couple of months have been a true test for the entire healthcare industry. COVID-19 has challenged us all. As is often the case when disasters occur, even unprecedented ones like this, people have stepped up all over the world to do their part to fight the pandemic. And we have been forced to quickly develop new ways of doing things. In my role at Air Methods, coordinating transports between hospitals and our flight crews, I have seen many examples of heroism since this crisis began. One recent incident in which I was involved exemplified the dedication and talent of healthcare heroes on the frontlines. From my location in upstate New York, I was informed one night in early April that Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens, New York City, had experienced an interruption in its oxygen system, threatening the lives of many COVID-19 patients who were suffering from respiratory failure. I began communicating with one of my teammates, Jennifer Noce, a clinician who was stationed at the facility, to coordinate efforts to move patients to facilities that were equipped to treat them, while also relieving the pressure that staff was experiencing at Jamaica Hospital. Jennifer worked with Jamaica Hospital’s emergency director and charge nurse to locate patients who needed transport, while I worked with Albany Medical Center and officials in New York City to begin moving those patients from Queens to upstate New York. Several other Air Methods colleagues helped manage all the moving parts. William Stubba, one of our area managers, for example, worked hard to get aircraft to JFK International Airport in NYC. All told, we dispatched 23 aircraft to JFK that night to meet ambulances carrying COVID-19 patients from Jamaica Hospital. In total over that week, we transported a total of 49 patients to Albany Medical Center and other Albany area hospitals in upstate New York, which were not experiencing the crisis-level surge that healthcare facilities all over NYC were dealing with. It was an amazing coordination of care. The Albany Medical Center Transfer Center acted as a point of contact and identified available beds for patients who were en route to their facility. The decision of who to transport was made by the physicians and healthcare providers at the referring hospital, which were then accepted by physicians at Albany Medical Center. I was honored to be a part of this incredible effort. It exemplified the synergy that is needed during times of adversity, when agility, communication and determination saves lives. Everyone was dedicated to these efforts and were able to work through an intense and somewhat chaotic situation. From clinicians like Jennifer, to managers like William, to the many pilots, nurses and mechanics on each flight crew – everyone came together to accomplish a goal that developed rapidly. This incident proved to be an invaluable learning experience for myself and everyone else who was involved. Air medical services are often called to the scenes of accidents where there is not much time to think. The crew arrives, they stabilize the patient, and they fly them to the appropriate hospital. During the pandemic, in incidents like the one at Jamaica Hospital, a different plan of attack has been required.While we have always taken a highly coordinated approach, incidents like car accidents have many similarities and procedures become almost automatic. However, that has not been the case when dealing with COVID-19. Agility and deliberate decision-making coordinated among multiple teams has become more integrated into our processes. And that will help us improve our approach to care long after we emerge from this pandemic.