Pandemic Tips from Healthcare Professionals

COVID-19 has caused countless issues for labs, hospitals, and healthcare providers. Supply shortages, testing delays, and lack of safety equipment have been a few of the daily issues. This blog will list some pandemic tips from healthcare professionals.

Becker’s Hospital Review hosted a podcast offering advice from industry leaders on how they’re coping. Here are some of the highlights:

Lab supply chain

  1. Bryan Vaughn, senior vice president of hospital and health services at LabCorp“At LabCorp, choice of [testing] platform to bring up depends on [whether] we [can] get quality test results from that platform, capacity, and throughput of that platform, then the availability of equipment and then the reliability of the supply chain and what it takes to run any test.  [Our expectation is that] as serology testing becomes more available, we will learn more from research about how to use this testing. We’re doing as we’re learning and will certainly evolve.”
  2. Rob Van Tuyle, president, blood services, VitalantIn terms of the ability to supply blood during the pandemic, “I really don’t want the blood to be the next toilet paper. We need our hospitals to let us know when they expect to resume elective surgeries. That’s a critical item. The more time we have to prepare and rally the better.” 
  3. Ryan Cox, vice president of laboratory sales, Cardinal Health: “We try to be predictive in identifying where there might be future supply chain problems. We try to be creative by offering alternatives and working with our network and manufacturer community members to identify [if] there [is] an alternative way to grab that sample. And then being responsive … As soon as we know there’s an issue, we want to try to communicate back and try to find that product as soon as possible.” 
  4. Bob Beyer, vice president supply chain services, Hospital Sisters Health System(Springfield, Ill.): “From a cost-savings perspective, there was already a big focus on that in the healthcare supply chain. But the pandemic really has only accelerated the need and topic of discussion for more clinical standardization and increased focus on the utilization of supplies.”
  5. John Kautzer, system director, contracting, Hospital Sisters Health System(Springfield, Ill.): “HSHS supply chain and clinical leadership have a solid working relationship, allowing us to do things a bit on the fly that perhaps other systems aren’t able to. It’s allowed us to do some unique sourcing, bring in alternate products. Clinicians have been good at vetting products for us and being flexible.”

Hospital labs

  1. Ian Noga, lab director at Sentara Healthcare(Norfolk, Va.): “Explaining clinical sensitivity can go a long way [with COVID-19 testing]. It’s a test and just because it’s negative doesn’t mean the patient is always negative. It’s important to have those discussions and talk about it. Talk about that clinical sensitivity, talk about the collections.”
  2. Connie Wilkins, lab director at CHI Nebraska(Omaha): “Remember the laboratory is not in this alone. You’re not an island. Use your incident command centers.”
  3. Lisa Norcia, regional director, operations, Accumen“The more you can educate other departments in your hospital about clinical decision making around these tests the better. Also, because this [pandemic] is so rapidly evolving, be aware this will change as we come out with new guidelines, new testing. Be cautious of any long-term commitments. Be mindful and document everything you do.”
  4. Carol Sheets, past director of laboratory and hospital services at Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare; lab administrator, Accumen“I’ve never been prouder to be a laboratorian. I think the lesson learned is labs like to have a path and see the need to adapt. [Labs] will continue to adapt, [possibly through] more collaboration with other labs.”

Patient blood supply

  1. Eduardo Nunes, vice president, quality, standards, and accreditation at AABB, formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks: “The picture that’s emerging of blood utilization [in the U.S.] is a bit confounding at this point. We had a very challenged supply for a little while, but we seem to have stabilized largely as a result of shifts in how people are getting care. The stability of the blood supply can change quickly. I like to remind people platelets have a five-day shelf life. In just a few days we can go from having a fairly robust supply to seeing it quite challenged.”
  2. Carolyn Burns, MD, president-elect of the Society for the Advancement of Blood Management“The current pandemic has brought the supply of blood under scrutiny.  However, by implementing robust PBM practices, we can sustain supply for those truly in need and limit or even eliminate transfusion in those that do not.  This provides better outcomes not just during times of crisis, but every day in every way.”
  3. Alvaro Candel, MD, Medical Director, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Edward-Elmhurst Health(Elmhurst, Ill.): “I believe that having an already established patient blood management program — [involving, in our case, a medical staff Blood and Diagnostics Utilization Review Committee and a partnership with Accumen] — has been the key to our quick response to the anticipated blood shortages. Without our current existing lines of communication and the trust that we’ve been able to develop over the years with our medical staff, I think we’d be in a much different position today.” 

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