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COVID-19: APPLYING LESSONS LEARNED FOR MOVING FORWARD

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by Air Methods

Not long ago we joined our partner, Central Logic, a leading provider of innovative transfer center and on-call scheduling technology, to present a webinar on lessons we have learned since COVID-19 began to dominate our lives and the work we do.

Both Air Methods and Central Logic have enacted efforts during the pandemic that have the potential to change procedures long accepted in the healthcare industry. Hospital systems all over the country have been overwhelmed at one point or another as COVID spreads from urban centers to rural towns and regions.

Synergy and “coopetition” have been integral in the response to overwhelming adversity. From treating critically ill patients to protecting healthcare workers exposed to the virus to maintaining a steady supply of PPE – agility, clear communication, and focused decision-making have been the keys to weathering the storm COVID has brought to our healthcare system.

The lessons we have learned – such as coordinating mass transport of critical patients and quickly creating a regional access center from scratch – can be adopted by other health systems and public health entities to ensure patients are taken care of appropriately and safely. Should a second wave of COVID hit the country, we must apply these lessons. And this approach goes beyond COVID. What we have learned can also be applied to other infectious diseases; emergencies like largescale fires; natural disasters, and many other crises.

While it’s true that we have been dealing with infectious disease throughout history – from the mild to the highly virulent – management of COVID patients has changed the landscape of healthcare in various ways.

For Air Methods, the protection of air medical crews has never been so extensive and important. Once a transport is complete, crews must change out of their flight suits and shower, then decontaminate the aircraft before returning to base. Following up with hospitals to confirm which patients had COVID and determining whether crew members need to be proactively quarantined have also become common practice. The pandemic has required crews to take great care and deliberate steps while they quickly transport critical patients who are often on a ventilator and receiving complex prehospital care.

At Central Logic, highly organized and efficient communication amid a chaotic situation has been sharpened. The pandemic has underscored the importance of a clinician-staffed access center to ensure patients can be navigated to the right care as quickly as possible. They drive knowledge to identify high-risk factors as they occur, ensure all data elements are captured for care and determine what EMS personnel and hospitals should prepare for. A scripted approach is key to keeping care as streamlined as possible.

A variety of new best practices and processes have emerged from our battle with COVID. In situations like these, knowledge sharing between organizations is key. If we can gather up the lessons learned across the healthcare industry, we will be better equipped and more prepared for the next crisis.