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Innovation and agility help WellSpan navigate the pandemic

Innovation and agility help WellSpan navigate the pandemic

Today marks two years since WellSpan Health cared for its very first COVID-19 patient. 

While we all know the terrible toll and challenges of the pandemic, WellSpan has managed to move forward in these unexpected and challenging times. Out of necessity and with a focus on caring for our communities, we turned to innovation to navigate the past two years. 

The creative solutions we discovered will remain with us as we move forward into the world that awaits us after the pandemic. 

Here are five lessons we have learned during the pandemic, and the ways they have transformed and advanced our care in the past two years: 

  • We learned to become nimble with our staffing, so we could offer critical care, immunizations, and testing as we responded to the rise and fall of variants of the COVID-19 virus. 

Now all WellSpan hospitals benefit from a new innovative nursing program, called WellStaffed, which features a pool of our own nurses who move around to where the need is most urgent across WellSpan's system. 

  • We learned how to be more adept at using virtual technology.  

During the pandemic, WellSpan expanded a new online primary service called Duo Healthcare. The service provides patients with 24/7 primary health care access via a smartphone, tablet, or personal computer. Patients and caregivers work as a team, with the physician as the coach. Physicians collect health data from patients via connected devices, such as blood pressure cuffs and scales, to track their health and identify issues before they become serious. They order any tests needed and connect patients with specialists. 

  • We also learned how to provide care in new places. 

WellSpan Hospital at Home supplies outpatient treatment for patients who are stable and have lower-acuity problems. These patients are discharged from WellSpan York Hospital to their homes, where they receive services such as intravenous therapy, oral medications, lab tests, and remote monitoring, as well as one or two daily visits from a nurse, during which they also get a remote visit with a provider. 

The program has treated more than 750 patients since it began in 2020. Critical to its operation during the pandemic, which put a strain on hospital resources, the program frees beds for other more critically ill patients. WellSpan is expanding the program to WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital and WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital later this year. 

  • We learned that progress happens when we support and collaborate with others. 

Last year, WellSpan and Johns Hopkins announced plans to fight cancer together in South Central Pennsylvania. Our comprehensive collaboration will combine the expertise of WellSpan cancer physicians and programs with the innovative clinical, research, and educational capabilities of Johns Hopkins Medicine. 

  • As our hospitals overflowed with COVID-19 patients and we were compelled to focus our attention on battling the virus, we learned that we could maintain our high standards of quality, safety, and patient experience. 

Our hospitals have maintained top safety grades from Leapfrog, an independent, national organization that collects and analyzes hospital safety data. The grade is based on our performance in preventing medical errors, injuries, accidents, infections, and other possible harms to patients in our care.