The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina, said Dr. Katherine Baumgarten, medical director of infection control and prevention for New Orleans-based Ochsner Health.
As she was doing rounds with nurses and physicians, she noticed caregivers spending more time at the bedside.
“It’s a lot more difficult when patients can’t have visitors. Nurses are filling some of that void in times of need,” Baumgarten said. “These physicians, nurses and staff have come into their own and stepped out of their comfort zone in a time of stress and concern. To watch everyone work through problems and come up with solutions in a time of stress and concern was gratifying and amazing.”
The infection prevention team made spaces for additional beds and designed the rooms to optimize personal protective equipment use. IT specialists set up cameras in intensive-care units so nurses and physicians can check in and patients can call their families. With guidance from Baumgarten’s colleagues in Africa who endured the Ebola crisis, Ochsner set up units dedicated to COVID-19 patients.
“I couldn’t believe how quickly that happened,” Baumgarten said.