As have our peer organizations, Yale New Haven Health has been preparing for the tidal wave of patients sick with COVID-19. While we work with state and local officials to flatten the curve, we are simultaneously identifying critical equipment, facilities, treatment algorithms and workflows. Perhaps most importantly, we are organizing and safeguarding our healthcare workers—both clinical and nonclinical staff.
Healthcare is a human-intensive industry; we must deliberately focus on protecting our staff from harm as a first principle.
Several months ago, we assembled health-system incident command structures for each hospital within our system to command, coordinate and control the activities of independent groups toward the common goal of reducing event impact and limiting mortality. We augmented the structure with "action teams" charged with optimizing public communications, running testing for COVID-19, defining personal protective equipment use standards, managing workforce planning, and establishing treatment protocols.
Among the 27,000 employees and 8,000 medical staff at Yale New Haven Health, a majority have direct face-to-face contact with patients—in our emergency departments, ambulatory clinics, operating rooms, procedural suites, radiology departments and, importantly, inpatient and intensive-care units. These include staff with specialized skills both in care delivery and in the support of those activities. We recognize that what is in our staff's interest is simultaneously in our organization's and patients' interest. Namely, a healthy staff can provide much needed critical care. If we fail to protect our teams, we fail to treat our community.
Our strategy has six components: Optimize external and internal communications; apply social-distancing policies; optimize testing strategies; enhance stewardship of personal protective equipment; create scalable and redundant teams; and focus on the physical and mental well-being of our staff members.