As COVID-19 cases surge across the country, hospitals and clinicians in emerging hot spots are faced with similar challenges that their peers in New York and Washington and other states dealt with in the early months of the pandemic.
Shortages of personal protective equipment and inadequate access to diagnostic testing persist, but the providers in the new hot spots are also dealing with the added complexity of a worn-out workforce and caring for patients and balancing COVID cases with the need to bring back non-emergent procedures.
"I think the biggest challenge people are experiencing is fatigue. And it's not physical fatigue, it's quarantine fatigue, mask fatigue, fatigue around washing your hands," said Dr. Tony Slonim, president and CEO of Reno, Nev.-based Renown Health. "I mean, it sounds ridiculous, but people are tired of being asked to do things they don't want to do and they're not acting rationally, You see this on the internet."
At the same time, the new hot spots have had the benefit of experience and learning from peers and the time to re-examine how they treat COVID patients, keep staff safe and conserve resources.
“We are much more conservative about putting patients on ventilators” now compared to the beginning of the pandemic, said Dr. Marcus Schabacker, CEO of ECRI, a non-profit organization that works to improve patient the safety and quality of healthcare. “We are finding other ways to supplement oxygen.”
Modern Healthcare talked with leaders in a number of emerging hot spots. Here are their stories.