Covid-19 Story Tip: What Hospitals Have Learned About Treating COVID-19 Patients — and What Challenges Might Be Ahead

08/11/2020

As coronavirus infections continue to surge throughout the United States, the best way to help hospitals handle the influx of patients is not to become one, says Clare Rock, M.B.B.Ch., associate hospital epidemiologist at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. That is, maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet, avoid large gatherings and wear face coverings in public.

“When those things are being done in the community, we usually don’t see very high hospitalization rates,” says Rock, an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Once patients are in the hospital, however, the safety of health care workers and other patients is “paramount” in preventing transmission from COVID-19 patients, says Rock. At Johns Hopkins, that means health care workers wear masks at all times in the hospital as well as eye protection when interacting with patients. A health care worker showing any symptoms of COVID-19 must immediately contact Occupational Health Services and get tested, and that person is taken off the work schedule until cleared by Occupational Health Services, she adds.

After an initial “steep learning curve” in treating a new virus, clinicians have now seen enough COVID-19 cases to recognize patterns in how patients react to the virus and what treatments would be most effective, Rock says.

“It’s through the experience our clinical teams have of seeing, caring for, managing and treating these patients that we’ve been able to garner that expertise,” she says.

Hospitals nationwide have largely standardized care for COVID-19 patients, according to Rock, with some, including Johns Hopkins, now testing all newly admitted patients for the virus. Her larger worry moving forward for hospitals in general is the strength of the national supply chain.

“The main concern now as we see rates increasing dramatically in parts of the country is potentially a scarcity of adequate supplies for testing and personal protection equipment for health care workers,” she says.

Rock is available for interviews to discuss best practices at hospitals for COVID-19 and how health care institutions can prepare for spikes in cases.


For information from Johns Hopkins Medicine about the coronavirus pandemic, visit hopkinsmedicine.org/coronavirus. For information on the coronavirus from throughout the Johns Hopkins enterprise, including the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Johns Hopkins University, visit coronavirus.jhu.edu.