With hardly any references and with time against the clock, the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital designed a management plan for the covid virus that allowed it to anticipate the worst health crisis that it has experienced in decades. The World Health Organization (WHO) congratulated him in April on his effectiveness and yesterday, the IESE business school announced that it will turn the case into an object of study for its students.
“Today there is nothing written about the management of a hospital pandemic. We have been able to see a real example of the evolution of the crisis and how it fits into the future strategy of a hospital center ”, said yesterday the IESE professor, Jaume Ribera, who sticks the study to the first wave.
The hospital hired 1,150 professionals in the first wave and invested 54 million to tackle covid in all of 2020
Vall d’Hebron was not the only center that successfully addressed the management of the health crisis, but his case stands out for being the largest public hospital in Catalonia, through which more than 40,000 people pass daily. The managing director of the hospital, Albert Salazar, explained yesterday in a virtual meeting with the press how he lived those first weeks. “We had little information about Wuhan and northern Italy but we did not want to minimize the threat. We prepare protocols, organize tests and adapt spaces, focusing on critical patients ”.
Salazar indicated that ICU beds were multiplied by four –from 50 to 200– and that up to 13 different spaces were enabled to treat infected patients. “We practically became a one-disease hospital. Of the total 750 beds in the general hospital, only 50 or 60 were released for other ailments. “
The center also expanded the healthcare staff to cope with the peak in patients. “In the first wave, 1,150 health workers were hired, 800 of whom were nursing personnel.” Resources were also allocated to the purchase of protective equipment and respirators. “Here the problem was not financing but supply. We were a day and a half away from being without PPE and we had 222 respirators, just a few more than we need ”.
The hospital budget in 2020 amounted to 800 million euros compared to 728 million in 2019. Salazar commented that of this increase, 54 million corresponded to covid expenses (29 million were dedicated to human resources, 17 to equipment and 7 to works in facilities). He also noted that the workforce has increased by 550 workers from one year to the next. In addition, the hospital last week inaugurated a satellite center in the Pere Virgili campus, where 160 new health workers are working to treat covid cases. However, the current situation is not as critical as in the beginning (25% of the hospital treats covid patients).
Salazar commented that throughout these months the involvement of different health disciplines, the reduction of hierarchies as well as the collaboration with other health centers and facilities, both public and private, has been key. He also especially appreciated the help of the Delfos and Chiron centers, which were made available to him during the first wave. In the future, he assured that these lessons learned will be taken into account for the ordinary and extraordinary management of the hospital.