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How Will Hospitals Prepare for Second Wave During COVID-19 Slowdown?

May 04, 2020

Warm weather may beckon, but this is not the time to relax social distancing practices because national and local healthcare experts still predict a second wave of COVID-19 will hit this fall.

“Social distancing is the only thing we have to decrease the spread of this disease,” said Dr. Ajay Kumar, Chief Clinical Officer for Hartford HealthCare, in the system’s May 4 media briefing. “(The disease) is still as lethal as it was in February, March and April.”

Noting that social distancing measures are “critical to reducing the amount of suffering” possible in another wave of the pandemic, Dr. Kumar said extending them buys the population added time in which more effective treatments or a vaccine for COVID-19 can be developed.

The Centers for Disease Control has predicted a second wave of the pandemic will hit the United States around the same time as the onset of seasonal flu season. Before then, Dr. Kumar said HHC teams will continue to work to stock “our toolbox” needed to best fight the spread of the virus and help people who become infected.

Those tools, he explained, include:

  1. Having enough personal protective equipment (PPE) on hand to protect staff and patients for at least one year.
  2. Optimizing contact tracing efforts that identify people who have had contact with a person who tests positive for COVID-19. “It’s almost a SWAT team approach to contain and isolate people,” Dr. Kumar said. “We have to be aggressive.”
  3. Maintaining HHC facilities so they are as safe as possible both for patients needing help for the virus or other healthcare concerns.
  4. Maintaining capacity at the system’s acute care hospitals so teams can easily scale operations up or down to meet the demand for care anticipated in a second wave.

“I am confident today that we will be ready with our space, our staff and PPE,” Dr. Kumar said. “I hope it doesn’t come, but we will be prepared if it does.”

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