Bellevue Medical Center: Emergency Preparedness Plan for Communicable Diseases Was Put in Place
Accredited by the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health, by Joint Commission International (JCI) for quality and patient safety, and certified gold by Planetree International for person-centered care achievements, Bellevue Medical Center has always put its patients, visitors and staff safety as a priority.
Very early on, when the Covid-19 outbreak started worldwide, a multidisciplinary covid-19 taskforce was created at BMC, with professionals from infection diseases, emergency medicine, nursing, infection control, quality management, material management, laboratory medicine, as well as hospital and medical administration. The taskforce met daily to devise new guidelines and processes for the management of the crisis, and to ensure everyone’s safety, based on national and international guidelines by the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO).
In parallel, an infection control team started training and educating hospital staff about the new directives and measures, as well as auditing implementation of processes on an ongoing basis.
Re-prioritization and re-allocation of resources were done to meet the immediate needs.
In order to receive patients adequately, a dedicated screening zone was created outside of the emergency room.
A twenty bed inpatient unit that includes four ICU beds, was allocated to receive patients with covid-19. This unit was redesigned and equipped along the best standards of care and safety.
In brief, the BMC readiness in the face of this pandemic necessitated the acquisition of additional medical equipment and material including ventilators, PPEs, and a rapid PCR test for emergency cases. All needed equipment and material acquisitions were made despite the challenging local and global shortages.
At the same time, an emergency preparedness plan for communicable diseases was put in place, and drills were conducted.
Precautionary measures were implemented immediately at Bellevue Medical Center, to name a few:
- Temperature was monitored and symptoms were checked for each person accessing the hospital. A survey about the latest travels and contact history with suspected patients was systematically done.
- Face masks were distributed to all staff, patients and visitors.
- Hand sanitizing stations were made available in all departments. Hand washing was emphasized
- Visiting hours were modified and number of visitors limited.
- Waiting areas and cafeteria were remodeled to avoid crowding and maintain physical distancing. Alternatives where offered as needed.
- Separators were placed on desks to avoid close contact among patients and staff, red lines and footprints were added on the floor to ensure physical distancing.
PCR test is conducted for all patients prior to admission. As for the outpatient departments, in addition to all the measures listed above, cleaning and disinfection of all surfaces is done between patients and procedures, and appointments are appropriately spaced.
Strict measures are also taken to ensure safe delivery of supplies with no risk of contamination including disinfection and control of any material entering the hospital.
Last but not least, a Hotline 1565 has been created to answer all patients’ concerns and requests.
In the best person-centeredness approach, every single step was thoroughly thought of to ensure patients and staff needs are met while respecting the highest safety guidelines. This was well recognized by everyone, as evidenced by this comment received from one patient: “Thank you, at Bellevue we feel very safe and at home”.
As always, we are grateful to our physicians and staff who showed an exemplary teamwork, while working towards the interest of patients and hospital together, amidst a pandemic which was seriously complicated by an underlying economic crisis.
As always, there are lots of lessons learned from the crisis, not the least being the importance of immediate response, agility and teamwork that are crucial to meet the challenges. One must also recognize the support and importance of following recommendations from local and international health authorities.
BMC is committed to keep being on the alert for any situation that needs preparedness and reactivity, as well as to maintain quality and safety in a person-centered care approach.