While the Covid-19 pandemic is a public health crisis, it is also a crisis of management, procurement and operations in our health system. At Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York, the hospital’s leadership and team have responded with creative solutions while working in a bureaucracy not otherwise known to be lean, interactive or nimble. Despite the bleak outlook — at the time of writing possible Covid-19 patients make up more than 80% of the emergency department — Elmhurst Hospital took early, decisive action to rapidly transform itself into a Covid-19 treatment center. These crucial lessons, implemented on the fly, include stemming the tide of relatively healthy Covid patients, tackling sticky bottlenecks, and empowering the right leadership team.
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Elmhurst Hospital, in Queens, New York, is a 545-bed city hospital that serves as a safety-net institution for a largely working-class immigrant population. The novel coronavirus has quickly spread through this vulnerable community, and the hospital is currently operating at more than 100% capacity. In an effort to free up precious beds, …