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Michigan Medicine

A Minute with Marschall

Working Better Together Prepares Us for a Brighter Future

August 27th, 2020

There are no silver linings during a pandemic but there are constant lessons to be learned. When those lessons converge with brilliant teamwork and innovation, we see signs of brighter days in our future. 

In the five months since COVID-19 impacted just about everything we do at Michigan Medicine, we developed new protocols and procedures as well as channels of communication that will serve us well in the years to come. We also learned that rapid decision-making can occur in a large organization like ours and we can reconsider and revise those decisions as we learn more.

Importantly, we recognize how much we all have sacrificed, both individually and collectively, and how we must continue to focus on our “recovery” from these stressful times. Our ability to provide quality care to every patient while protecting the safety and wellbeing of our staff remain our utmost priority.

Care providers and our teams in every discipline are stepping up and outside their normal routine and sometimes their comfort level. For instance, some may be working on different units or on different schedules than before. We are becoming better at being nimble, and how to deploy our workforce more efficiently going forward. I’ve never been prouder of this team – the unwavering resilience and tenacity you have shown in the face of this pandemic has been incredible.

Nowhere has this been more evident than when we faced the very arduous task of how to ramp up operations after flattening the curve. Part of this effort has involved figuring out how to handle the backlog of 12,000 surgeries, 3,200 gastrointestinal procedures, 2,000 cardiac procedures, along with 80,000 clinical visits.

Surgeons are always prioritizing their own cases, but for the first time we have had to do this on a system-wide basis. One team, led by Dr. Kelly Malloy and Dr. Amir Ghaferi, developed an innovative Surgical Urgency Scale that asked physicians to rate their cases using four weighted measures: the inherent aggressiveness of the disease/condition; the risk of delay; the patient’s mental, physical and financial distress, and the availability of non-procedural therapies.

That was only one piece of a far more complex puzzle. Surgeons, for example, need more than an available operating room. They need anesthesiologists and nurses, and dozens of others on a care team, plus sterilized instruments, proper post-surgical locations, and many more details made more complex by the pandemic.

One thing is clear – caring, inclusion, innovation, collaboration, and teamwork – all of our core values  – are at play here to make our ramp up a success. Now in August, our numbers are proving we are indeed successfully ramping back up.

Michigan Medicine All Cases UH, CVC, Mott Chart. Grey = 2019; Blue = 2020. You can see where COVID-19 impacted cases March – June and how we have successfully ramped back
up to case loads similar to 2019 in August, thanks to great teamwork!

This resiliency also proves that we will be better prepared if another outbreak forces us to ramp down operations again. In so many ways we will be ready for another wave. For example:

  • We learned how to best sequester COVID-19 patients
  • We understand our PPE inventory needs much better
  • We have better testing procedures in place
  • New Coronavirus treatments are more readily available
  • We know how to shift resources within our network more efficiently
  • We found new ways to use MyChart more effectively

It’s still not entirely clear where we are in this pandemic – maybe the beginning or middle but certainly not the end.

Whatever the future holds, everyone at Michigan Medicine can take pride in how we have responded to this crisis. Most importantly, know that we continue to remain nimble and resilient, while developing insights that will allow all of us to provide even better care in the years ahead.

Thank you for all you do to care for our patients, their families and each other.

What examples have you seen of how we work better together? Share your story in the discussion box below.  

One Comment

  • I will send under separate cover a think piece you might find useful, co-authored by our former Dean and other luminaries.

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