COVID-19 Brought Competing Hospitals Cleveland Clinic And UH Together
The large hospital systems in the Cleveland area often compete for patients and money but concerns about large numbers of patients flooding the health system during the pandemic brought the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals together.
The two health care systems worked together to make sure no hospital became too overwhelmed by the influx of patients due to COVID-19, said Dr. Robert Wyllie, Cleveland Clinic's chief of medical operations.
"We looked at what we presumed the rate of infection was, and we said, what can we do to prepare?" Wyllie said.
They also collaborated to triple the number of hospital beds to make sure all patients could be served.
A new report from University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic focuses on lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and urges continued collaborations.
In April of 2020, Wyllie began leading the regional response to COVID-19. The state was broken down into three regions as part of the statewide approach. That collaboration is an example of hospital systems working together to fight COVID-19, Wyllie said.
The health care systems also worked together during the pandemic to fight outbreaks in congregate living facilities, and together, they made sure each hospital had an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and masks, according to the report.
Hospital officials are the primary audience for the report, Wyllie said. They wanted to make sure other health care workers could learn from their collaboration, said Dr. Eric Beck, Chief Operating Officer at University Hospitals.
"That was really the motivation to put the white paper together and to share it with others, is to hopefully illuminate what can be achieved and what is possible when you take that approach," Beck said.
The report gives examples of how greater collaboration can be used to advance efforts in fighting the opioid epidemic, and Wyllie said fighting infant mortality is another good example of how hospitals can work together to address health disparities.
Expanding research and job training are also ways hospitals can collaborate post-pandemic.
Even though collaboration is key, Wyllie said a little competition can still be a good thing.
“I think a little competition around innovation and improving patient care is a good thing,” he said. “I think there are things that are not directly patient-facing, which are public health issues and health disparity issues, where we can partner with the community and partner with each other to make sure we’re providing care.”