Managing Temporary Hospital Sites During COVID-19 Outbreak

For most hospitals, setting up robust temporary field operations for COVID-19 care is a new and difficult challenge. Fortunately, health leaders can turn to professionals with experience establishing temporary hospitals, such as members of the military.

According to an article by Jason Hall, a retired Air Force colonel, the U.S. military frequently sets up field hospitals, sometimes in hours, which despite their location offer high-quality care on par with that found in traditional hospital settings.

In the article, Hall focuses on remote IT solutions and data collection needed to support such efforts. His recommendations spring from more than 24 years running healthcare facilities around the world, including five times in which he set up temporary healthcare facilities. They include the following items, below.

Keep IT functions simple: Depending on the situation, there may not be a need for expensive on-site servers, as cloud solutions might work better. All told, it’s better to avoid complicated, multi-layered solutions, Hall writes.

Work with experts: To get the project done right, it’s best to hire an experienced technology solutions consultant able to create a custom solution allowing you to connect remote users to enterprise IT functions. He recommends seeing to it that the vendor has enterprise-class remote delivery experience, and is prepared to implement integrated storage, compute, network, unified communications, wireless, and security technology.

Find a clean power source: Regardless of how advanced your IT solution may be, it still uses AC power, which must come from a clean source. Don’t let this problem slide even if it seems less important than other emerging issues, Hall says.

Establish physical security measures: Security solutions range from simple lockable facilities to web-based cameras and AI-driven visitor analytics. The high-level idea is to pre-empt attacks by disruptors and prevent panic, he writes.

Prepare to manage worker-owned devices: Workers will come in with a very wide range of technologies, including all phone types, Apple devices and PCs, tablets, wireless lab and medical equipment and BI/analytical tools. Fortunately, this can be done easily with browser-based access solutions, according to Hall.

Consider implementing Desktop-as-a-Service: Remote workers will need access to applications, data and files stored on existing enterprise systems. These DaaS solutions leverage a secure cloud platform that can deliver applications and desktops to any device with a browser.

Keep data collection minimal: Given that pandemic operations are largely triage-oriented, it’s best to collect only the patient data you need to disseminate to authorities or allied healthcare facilities. This includes data on a patient’s current condition, disease trajectory and whom they contacted when contagious.

Keep crisis communications simple: Use tools such as Microsoft Teams to keep crisis information focused and organized. These tools can help leaders be sure that the right people have the right information in hand while providing access to a number of communication and file-sharing options.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.