As the U.S. continues to post the world’s worst new-case numbers of COVID-19, we must ask ourselves: What can we learn from other countries and the way their hospitals and healthcare facilities have dealt with the pandemic? While we might not be able to control the political or socioeconomic elements that have an effect on the situation, healthcare facilities can certainly take a look at what has worked in other places and apply it to their own models.
Early and accurate contact tracing works.
In places like South Korea and Hong Kong, widespread government-run contact tracing helped to keep the spread of the virus to a minimum. The government was able to easily diagnose and quarantine infected individuals early on, as well as people who came in contact with those individuals. In western countries like the U.S., there are privacy implications to the government running such operations, so it’s left up to hospitals and healthcare providers. So, while it’s not easy, focusing on accurate contract-tracing efforts makes a significant difference.
Time is of the essence.
The United Kingdom is an example of a country that dragged its feet in implementing a strict response to the coronavirus, and the resulting infection rates proved that time is of the essence. Healthcare providers should, therefore, be poised to act at the moment a potential second wave appears on the horizon. This is sometimes referred to as a “circuit breaker” plan, meaning that your facility can “flip the switch” the moment that it becomes necessary to prepare for the worst.
Healthcare infrastructure is important.
Obviously, countries with poor healthcare infrastructures were hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than those with well-established systems of care. And while you might not be able to change much about the way your federal or local government operates, for the time being, your facility can be prepared with the infrastructure necessary to combat COVID-19 effectively — communication channels, patient transport capabilities, inventory and supply chains, proper staff levels and deployment, etc.
More PPE needs to be readily available.
One thing that the pandemic has made abundantly clear is that healthcare facilities can run out of personal protective equipment (PPE) far too quickly. Many countries took an innovative approach and called on private businesses or corporations to help with manufacturing: 3D-printed facemasks out of France, for example, or companies like Rolls Royce making ventilators in the United Kingdom. That’s happened to some extent in the U.S. as well, but it all makes one thing very clear: Your facility needs to stock up on PPE for potential second waves, not to mention future epidemics or pandemics.
Learning By Example
Taking a look at where other countries have succeeded in controlling the coronavirus pandemic is an extremely valuable exercise. Healthcare facilities must do everything in their power to stay ahead of the curve.
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