By Peter Kah, MD, Regional Medical Director, Emergency Services, TeamHealth Southeast Group
The COVID-19 pandemic stressed healthcare systems across the world. As the pandemic continues, many areas are still facing hardship. While the societal impact in terms of loss and hardship are incalculable, some positive effects have arisen, such as the innovations in emergency departments prompted by the demands of rising to the challenge of COVID-19.
COVID-19’s Impact on Emergency Departments
A hallmark of this time has been patient safety. While patient safety is always a priority, it has been in the spotlight for over a year as clinicians fight to keep patients safe and healthy while providing the care they need.
COVID-19 has forced many emergency departments to introduce higher levels of caution at each step of the patient journey. From triage to admission, labs, imaging and more, patient safety is the priority. This increased caution reduces the chance for any unintended incidents. As we continue to guard safety, clinicians seek out areas for innovation and improvement to keep patients and staff safe.
Innovation and Efficiency during a Pandemic
Medicine is a field of innovation, and when pushed to the brink, we adapt. During the worst months of the pandemic, most facilities did not allow visitors for the safety of guests, patients and staff. However, clinicians saw the need to keep families updated on patients. With permission, many families were able to receive updates on their loved ones and even able to talk with them using video calls.
While this season has been difficult, our clinical teams have emerged smarter, more adaptable and, most importantly, more compassionate.”
In addition, telehealth use skyrocketed. While this technology has been available for years, it became an essential tool during the pandemic. One of the most profound areas of telehealth’s impact has been inside rural hospitals. By utilizing telehealth, these facilities have access to specialty services that may not have been available before. This medical tool has impacted access to care for many patients. It has also allowed clinicians to improve their care delivery by decreasing transfers and improving quality of care.
Adapting and Persevering Together
Each day, we have seen brave men and women come to work scared and tired but unwilling to leave communities without the care they deserve. Every level of healthcare has served on the frontlines of the pandemic – from greeters, housekeeping, security, techs, nursing, physicians and more.
Clinicians across the country donned full protective gear to help keep themselves, their teams and their patients safe. Countless stories of compassion and commitment have emerged during this time.
The COVID-19 pandemic has irrevocably changed the fabric of our country and each of us individually. While this season has been difficult, our clinical teams have emerged smarter, more adaptable and, most importantly, more compassionate. We will carry these changes forward as we continue to persevere and innovate to provide patients the care they need and deserve.
Learn more about TeamHealth’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and resources available for clinicians and facilities.