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How to Get a Hospital Expansion or Surge (Alternate Care) Facility Ready for Patients with COVID-19

Epic offers software, staff, and a strategy for health systems as they quickly create additional capacity

Based on experience working with health systems, public health authorities, and state and local governments around the country—including the Javits Center in Manhattan and McCormick Place in Chicago—Epic developed a project plan for hospital expansion and “surge” (alternate care) facilities to quickly increase hospital capacity to care for patients with COVID-19. Epic community members can refer to instructions on the UserWeb for creating a customized project plan. Epic is providing the software, staff, and strategy at no cost.

Here’s a summary of the strategy that Epic’s surge and expansion team can guide you through to prepare the facility and set up Epic in as little as three days:

  1. Answer Key Questions About the Expansion or Surge Facility

As setup begins, Epic’s surge and expansion team guides you through answering a few key questions about the expansion or surge facility, such as where it will be, who will staff and manage the space, and what other equipment and resources are needed.

  1. Set Up Rooms, Beds, and Devices

To set up the expansion or surge facility, you’ll need hardware and supplies, such as rooms and beds, computers and monitors for nurses’ stations, printers, barcode readers, and phones or tablets for clinicians to document patient care.

  1. Complete Configuration in Epic

Staff working in these facilities are using Epic to access patients’ health records, document care, and keep track of available beds. When a patient arrives at the facility, Epic’s interoperability platform, Care Everywhere, pulls together the patient’s information from different health systems, giving clinicians a comprehensive view of the patient’s health record.

Most of the setup required in Epic for creating a new expansion or surge unit is in the Foundation System so you can quickly get the unit up and running. Epic staff can help you create a unit, rooms, and beds in the system, configure lists to track patients’ location, set up reports to monitor bed availability, and use simplified nursing workflows for efficient documentation.

  1. Hold a Dress Rehearsal

After the space is prepared with beds, supplies, and hardware, make sure staff are ready to care for patients. Hold a dress rehearsal to practice workflows, which might include admitting new patients, bringing patients to beds, documenting patient care, and discharging patients.

  1. Train Staff to Use Epic

Training plans to help quickly onboard staff are available on the UserWeb, and Epic trainers can customize them for you so they match your processes. Training approaches include virtual video training, role-specific quick start guides, and peer training from physician leaders.

For more information on using Epic to help clinicians combat COVID-19, Epic community members can refer to the Managing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) With Epic white paper, which is updated regularly with recommended build and workflows.