Collaboration is key

With Chicago preparing to reopen shuttered hospitals and repurpose hotels to cope with an influx of COVID-19 cases and regional children's hospitals debating whether to open their doors to adult patients, it's clear that big challenges lie ahead for our city's health system. Already, Gov. Pritzker is calling on retired health care workers to offer their services too.

Such initiatives are urgently needed as health care workers and hospital administrators seek to weather the coming storm. Still, to get through this we'll need to do more than simply muster all the resources at our disposal. Unfortunately, the odds are that no matter how many hospital beds are freed up or how many doctors and nurses are on call, we still won't have all the people or equipment we'll need.

To cope, hospitals in Illinois and elsewhere will need creative thinking and incredibly efficient real-time logistical planning to allow them to do more with less under extraordinarily testing conditions. Administrators and political leaders will need to stay open to every possibility: from turning operating rooms into makeshift IC units, to setting up testing tents - as Naperville's Edward Hospital has already done - and perhaps even converting park buildings and sporting facilities into isolation wards.

Above all, health care leaders will have to work collaboratively - with the state and federal government, with the private sector and with other hospitals. Over the past two years, I've worked to help hospitals across the Midwest to coordinate resources more efficiently, and I know there are important synergies and efficiencies we can harvest if we join the dots in our regional health system. That might mean sharing scarce ventilators, masks or swabs; it might mean sharing nurses, support staff or simply knowledge. Ultimately, how well we work together will determine how many lives we're able to save.

Alyssa Rapp


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