Dealing With Disaster: Applying Lessons Learned from a Pandemic

As COVID-19 has maintained its grip on the United States, there has been an increasing focus on learning from emergency response successes and mistakes in order to prepare the nation’s healthcare system for the next local or national disaster. Hospitals and healthcare workers in particular have experienced the chaos, uncertainty and stress of caring for patients while, at times, lacking critical data as well as adequate supplies of equipment.

Recognizing the need for a segment of the healthcare workforce to specialize in healthcare crises, ICAP at Columbia University and the Dalio Center for Health Justice at NewYork-Presbyterian launched the REACH (Responding to Epidemics and Crises in Health) Fellowship. The program is utilizing a mix of education, training and mentorship to achieve a comprehensive approach and will include participants with diverse healthcare backgrounds.

Dr. Steven J. Corwin, President and Chief Executive Officer of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital emphasized the continued commitment of his staff in addressing COVID-19 and said the lessons learned on the ground will be thoroughly studied within the Fellowship. It is no surprise that one of the first collaborations of this nature has been initiated in one of the early coronavirus hot spots. As more time passes, additional institutions will certainly create similar programs.

Individual actions are vital for progress in handling any form of crisis that affects the healthcare system, however a coordinated approach that brings the industry together is unquestionably a necessity. The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC), of which NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is a member, has been working with the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and over 75 healthcare organizations to develop recommendations for a private-public partnership that will include an advanced coordinated plan formed and agreed upon by the healthcare industry and federal officials. Through the National Dialogue for Healthcare Innovation (NDHI), HLC and the Duke-Margolis team have led meetings and hosted a summit of healthcare executives and leaders within multiple government agencies to work out the details on this partnership. A final report will be distributed in early 2021. As this pandemic lingers, we can be sure that new lessons are on the horizon and the path forward is through innovation and collaboration.