Field Hospitals: Lessons From the Pandemic

By Dan Hounsell
May 4, 2021
MikeDotta /

The lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic are slowly emerging as healthcare facilities managers and their peers take time to reflect on their experiences of the last 14 months. Among the experiences providing insights for future emergencies is the opening of field hospitals.

When health systems need to open a field hospital during a public health emergency such as the coronavirus pandemic, they should be guided by emergency management principles, according to HealthLeaders. Several states across the country have had to open field hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic to accommodate COVID-19 patient surges. A common strategy has been to use field hospitals to treat low-acuity COVID-19 patients who can be transferred from hospitals and cared for safely before being discharged home.

The opening requires a multidisciplinary approach. The planning team should be multidisciplinary, with physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, facilities managers, and logistics and procurement specialists all working together to make decisions. That team effort is not just a few people at the top making decisions. For example, a facilities manager with experience with airflow in buildings and electrical capabilities can work with clinical team members to figure out where to put beds that might require a ventilator.

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