With the continued rollout of COVID-19 vaccines across the country, healthcare professionals and providers are breathing a collective sigh of relief as the nation begins to imagine a cautious return to normalcy. With what is likely the worst of the pandemic behind us, many leaders across the industry are taking a pragmatic pause to reflect on the pandemic’s unprecedented disruption and devastation.
Peter Goodspeed, vice president of executive search at HealthTechS3, has led three previous webinars on the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning in September 2020, this series sought to offer guidance to senior leadership in rural hospitals struggling to manage the ongoing global crisis while best serving their healthcare population. In his upcoming fourth webinar, Goodspeed will discuss what healthcare providers can learn from the pandemic. What could we have done better for our patients, our coworkers and for our community? How can we reimagine our hospitals and health systems in the wake of COVID-19?
Goodspeed says that board members and senior leadership at rural hospitals must take the time to consider these vital questions now, because it’s not a matter of if but when another disaster will strike.
“Leadership must be better prepared,” Goodspeed says. “We can take a page from the COVID-19 pandemic response and use it to better prepare ourselves for a natural disaster from climate change, for instance. As oceans rise and hurricanes become more powerful, what happens when the next Hurricane Katrina hits New York City, Boston, Miami or Houston? What happens when the major hospitals and thousands of beds in one of these cities are underwater? How can we take the things we learned from COVID-19 to help us prepare for the next natural disaster?”
Whether due to natural disaster, a cybersecurity breach or any other unforeseen circumstance, Goodspeed is adamant that healthcare infrastructure must be reconsidered in order to prepare for the unexpected. This means, in part, anticipating where breakdowns in communication, supply chain or technology may occur and then adopting new preparedness strategies to be responsive in a crisis.
“In the next disaster, doctors, clinicians and other health workers may again suffer mental health breakdowns, and that needs to be addressed now,” Goodspeed says. “We will also run into the same supply chain problems like running out of ventilators, personal protective equipment and more. And the poor communities in the United States will suffer more than the wealthy communities.”
When considering what could be improved upon, Goodspeed says it’s important not to lose sight of the wins, too—both locally and at the state and federal levels. Ask what worked well and why, Goodspeed urges.
“The pandemic showed the importance of investing in and building a competent team with strong management and leadership skills,” he says. “The pandemic also shined a light on the necessity to communicate often and honestly. Leaders must make good decisions, but they also must communicate why they made that decision.”
To learn more, tune in to the webinar Lessons Learned From the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Impact on Healthcare Delivery in the United States on June 7 at noon. Led by Goodspeed, the webinar will consider not only how rural hospitals could improve their response to disasters and other catastrophic events, but also how to develop revised preparedness strategies based on those insights. Reserve your spot today.