In the information age, it is becoming increasingly harder for people to tell fact from fiction. When people are overloaded with multiple streams of information spouting out different and sometimes conflicting reports, it can be difficult to navigate the truth. This is true within the realm of healthcare, especially during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, Adena Regional Medical Center has been dealing with misinformed reports of a Legionnaire’s outbreak at its premises in Ohio. It has even gotten bad enough where patients are calling and cancelling appointments out of concern, according to Yahoo News.
Adena Health released a statement on stating that the reports of a Legionnaire’s outbreak are “misinformation.” Additionally, the statement says “Adena recently tested, reported and treated positive Legionella cases, but all cases are considered to be community-acquired, not hospital-acquired. As of August 28, the Ross County Health District has reported no presumptive health care- associated cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Ross County residents in 2023.”
Misinformation can have a few effects on healthcare facilities through overwhelmed systems, resource allocation, employee morale/burnout and communicative challenges. In the cases of false outbreaks or even epidemics, healthcare systems can become overwhelmed with the influx of panicked patients, putting unnecessary strain on their systems. This can then lead to vital resources being misallocated based on faulty information. Facilities managers may end up making decisions based on that faulty information, leading to underutilization of certain supplies and overstocking of others. It is critical that managers have accurate information, as they depend on planning and proper resource allocation.
With healthcare systems being overwhelmed, employees both on the medical and facility ends can wind up becoming burnt out. There is already a lack of staff for both departments, and any additional stresses or anxieties put on them could push them past their breaking point.
Then with misinformation miring the channels of communication, it becomes even more difficult for healthcare facilities to clear things up. Patients, employees and the public alike can be confused by conflicting reports of a situation, further adding to the spread of faulty information. It then falls upon the healthcare facility – and even facilities managers – to set the record straight.
To combat the spread of misinformation, healthcare facilities can provide accurate and transparent information. Engaging with their own communities is also crucial, this way facilities can make sure the concerns and questions of the public have been addressed. One way of doing this is doing a page such as Adena’s where they dispel any rumors surrounding their facilities. It is a way of directly reaching out and attempting to clear the air. In addition, healthcare and facilities management teams should stay up to date on current medical developments and practices so they stay properly informed. That way if misinformation pops up, they can quickly quell its potential spread.
Jeff Wardon, Jr. is the assistant editor for the facilities market.