STRONGER TOGETHER: University Hospitals and Cleveland Clinic – COVID-19 Observations, Lessons Learned, Partnership and Roadmap for the Future

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Excerpt from “STRONGER TOGETHER: University Hospitals and Cleveland Clinic – COVID-19 Observations, Lessons Learned, Partnership and Roadmap for the Future”

 

Though much of the United States is re-opening in an attempt to “return to normal,” the cataclysmic COVID-19 pandemic that began in December 2019 and swept worldwide in early 2020 is not over. And we do not know where this is headed. Until the pandemic ends, however, it is vital that we examine what we’ve accomplished and move forward with what we’ve learned as a way to prepare for the next pandemic or public health crisis. Additionally, the emotional toll has been profound and the economic impact has been devastating, which will be difficult to estimate until it’s over.

Academic medical centers, hospitals, departments of public health, extended care facilities and healthcare providers were caught off guard despite having programs and protocols in place for this sort of challenge. Response to the pandemic has often been frenzied and, in the beginning, lacked reliable scientific consensus and critical epidemiologic information.

Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals (UH), the city of Cleveland and the state of Ohio faced many of the same challenges as the rest of the country. But, despite being competitive healthcare systems, Cleveland Clinic and UH collaborated in many ways to deal with the challenge. We also reached out to other regional hospitals, including Cleveland’s MetroHealth and St. Vincent Charity Medical Center as well as Firelands Regional Medical Center and Southwest General Medical Center, to work together on some initiatives. This necessitated collaboration across traditional silos, suspension of ego, and a willingness to explore creative relationships to address a set of immediate and critical needs. Of course disaster response plans were already in place, but our systems weren’t expecting a devastating event of this magnitude and duration to appear as fast as this one did. It is interesting that the previous Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreaks and the onslaught of COVID-19 each occurred about a decade apart. Despite the challenges we faced, we were able to find common ground for the benefit of our patients, local communities, and State of Ohio, by quickly forming a cooperation model. Throughout this process, we’ve learned a great deal about pandemics, public health, healthcare delivery, collaboration and how to better prepare for future public health challenges.

This white paper will review the Cleveland Clinic-UH collaboration while considering where we journey now and how we will continue this relationship post-COVID-19. An overview of our experiences will detail what we’ve done, what we’ve learned, and where knowledge gaps exist while providing a glimpse into our own response playbook that other health systems or communities may choose to adopt. We hope in sharing our experiences that the healthcare industry as a whole, as well as our respective communities, can be better prepared for serial COVID-19 waves and the inevitable next pandemic. We need to be better equipped to ensure a healthier community. The overarching theme is “stronger together.”

View or download the entire white paper here: STRONGER TOGETHER: University Hospitals and Cleveland Clinic – COVID-19 Observations, Lessons Learned, Partnership and Roadmap for the Future