Perspective: Helping Hospitals and Health Systems Recover and Reopen

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life in ways we never expected. For patients across the country, the cancellation or postponement of non-emergent surgeries, clinic visits and procedures delayed important medical care and financially devastated many hospitals and health systems, even threatening the ability of many to keep their doors open.

Today, as most states arereopening, there are questions about whether COVID-19 cases will spike again and if – or when – we’ll see a second wave. But two things are not in question: first, that hospitals and health systems are focused on being ready as communities reopen, and second, that they’re as safe as ever for patients and providers. Preventing infections has always been a top priority for hospitals and health systems, and our infection control practices have even improved over the past decade as we have worked to drive down surgical site infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI), and more.

To assist the field in sharing best practices as we make this transition, the AHA Board of Trustees, led by Dr. Melinda Estes, created a special Board Task Force. With input from AHA members from across the country, the Task Force has developed COVID-19 Pathways to Recovery, a key AHA member resource to guide hospitals and health systems as they respond, recover and return to regular service. It includes key questions and checklists to consider, lessons learned in hospitals and health systems across the country, guides on testing and contact tracing … and more.

In terms of patient safety, hospitals and health systems have taken numerous and extensive steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A few weeks ago, the AHA released a national TV and digital ad to let the public know – even as we continue to fight COVID-19 – that their hospitals and health systems are still here to care for them in every way, every day. We recently released a new version of the ad to remind Congress and the Administration that hospitals and health systems are providing essential care on the front lines during this pandemic … and that protecting our health care teams and communities is our top priority.

We have a special section of our web site for the latest data, podcasts and tools as we chart the path forward. Look for more resources to come. Our country – and our field – are not out of the woods yet, but we are seeing some light break through the trees. Together, we will make sure that as we co-exist with COVID-19, America’s hospitals and health systems can keep saving lives, performing miracles, and keeping people healthy … today and every day.