Emory Healthcare Recovery Planning and the New Normal

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April 30, 2020

Emory Healthcare Recovery Planning and the “New Normal”

With the COVID-19 situation beginning to show signs of improvement, Emory Healthcare is ready to start resuming services that were postponed over the past several weeks. As we begin transitioning into a “new normal” of living with COVID-19, patient and staff safety remains of the utmost importance. We are carefully evaluating every decision to ensure a sustainable transition plan is put into place with the ability and resiliency to scale back if we experience a resurgence in COVID cases.

Consistent with recent guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, it is becoming increasingly important to restart care for the people who rely on us, including certain surgeries and procedures, chronic disease care, and, ultimately, preventive care to prevent broad worsening of conditions and to ensure we are meeting medical needs within the community.

A number of workgroups are helping to prioritize these care needs among our patient population. Our decisions are being informed by a host of conditions which we believe we can meet at this time, including continued downward trend of the pandemic curve, sufficient PPE and other supplies, adequate testing capabilities, ample hospital and staff capacity, and others.

We will continue to provide updates on the road ahead over the coming weeks. We recognize that we are still very much in the midst of this global pandemic. As always, we will remain focused on the safety of our patients, community, and staff. Thank you, as always, to our health care team for their ongoing commitment and dedication to caring for those in need. And thanks to everyone across the Woodruff Health Sciences Center for supporting our efforts to flatten the curve, which makes it possible to begin moving toward the “new normal.”

Please direct questions and comments to evphafeedback@emory.edu.

Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, FACR
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Emory University
Executive Director, Woodruff Health Sciences Center
CEO, President, and Chairman of the Board, Emory Healthcare

Three experts tapped to shape federal COVID-19 treatment guidelines

Craig Coopersmith, Greg Martin, and Jeff Lennox (above, l-r) were among 29 experts from across the country who led the efforts to establish comprehensive federal guidelines on the care of patients with COVID-19. Coronavirus Disease 2019 Treatment Guidelines, which were released by the NIH on April 21, include treatment recommendations for patients at all stages of illness severity, as well as for those who are not infected.

The group spent the last several weeks sifting through published studies, reviewing the data for a broad range of drugs that have been touted as effective treatments and comparing strategies for managing the illness in a critical care setting. They split into four groups to develop clinically important recommendations that address potential therapies and encompass all patient types as well as special populations, such as pregnant women and children.

Martin, professor in Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine and committee chair for critical care at Grady, participated in the group on treating patients in a critical care setting. Coopersmith, professor of surgery and interim director of the Emory Critical Care Center, participated in the group on severely ill patients and the use of potential therapies to modify the immune response. Lennox, professor of medicine in Infectious Diseases, helped to lead the group focusing on mild to moderate patients and the use of antiviral therapies in patients with COVID-19. Read more here.

Expanding critical care

In response to the growing community spread of COVID-19, Emory Healthcare is repurposing intensive care units (ICUs) to create specialty ICUs for patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. To staff these ICUs, we have been redeploying advanced practice providers, nurses, residents, fellows, and attending physicians in other specialties to care for patients in COVID-ICUs, and to support critical care physicians and nurses and respiratory therapists who already staff the units. Nurse anesthetists and anesthesiology assistants working in surgical and procedural areas of Emory Healthcare have also been moved to these ICUs to assist. We continue to operate non-COVID ICUs as well.

A drive-through testing site

Emory Healthcare has opened a drive-through testing site for individuals suspected of having COVID-19. Visits to the site at 6 Executive Park Drive NE are by appointment only. People concerned that they might have the virus can call Emory’s COVID line at 404-712-6843 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) for evaluation of their condition and to determine if they meet the criteria for testing. If indicated, the nursing team will schedule a drive-through testing appointment. Patients are tested in their cars and usually receive results within 24 hours via a phone call from an Emory Healthcare nurse.

Development of an antibody blood test

Emory scientists have developed an antibody blood test that will help determine antibody responses in people who have been infected by COVID-19. Initially, testing will be available only to Emory Healthcare inpatients, certain groups of outpatients, health care providers and staff members, but will then be expanded significantly. The tests are being carried out by the Clinical Immunology section of Emory Medical Laboratories. We will begin testing at a rate of 300 people per day, with plans to scale up over several weeks. We hope to reach a goal of 5,000 tests per day by mid-June. Read more here.

Funds to support COVID-19 response

Emory has established several funds to strengthen our coronavirus response: The COVID-19 Impact Fund supports a broad range of research and patient care initiatives and provides resources critical to our response to the pandemic. Another fund addresses the immediate needs of our healthcare providers experiencing hardship as a result of COVID-19. The Emory Feed the Frontline Fund will help deliver meals to our emergency departments, critical care units, ICUs, and COVID units at a number of Atlanta-area hospitals.

In brief
Emory featured on NBC News

Building off our strong historical relationship with NBC News dating back to Ebola, Emory Healthcare was highlighted in a recent news broadcast. The story illustrates our ongoing commitment to improving lives and providing hope even during this pandemic. The planned later piece will hopefully expand upon the story to highlight all the amazing work going on across our system, including how we operate as a learning organization. Watch the story.

Emory Global Scholars in China donate 6,200 masks

When the Emory Global Scholars network heard that Emory Healthcare providers were battling COVID-19 and needed supplies, they immediately began raising money to help. The Emory Global Scholars are a group of former Emory trainees who returned to China after training but maintained their passion for and connection to the university. Their fundraising effort raised enough to purchase and ship 6,200 masks from China for our healthcare providers.

Calli Cook, Trisha Sheridan, and Paula Tucker have been elected as Fellows in the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

Alexis Dunn and Sarah Edwards have been selected as Fellows in the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

Yoko Hammond has been named chief business officer for the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. Hammond has spent the last 17 years at Yerkes and all of her career at Emory University, always within the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center. Her most recent role was director of business and finance at Yerkes, a position she held for nine years.

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