Delaware hospitals are working together and with partners in the state to ensure a coordinated, statewide response to COVID-19.
In a uniquely Delaware approach, hospitals are in regular communication with each other and with the Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Public Health, the Delaware Emergency Management Agency and the Governor’s Office on a variety of different COVID-19-related issues including hospital capacity, personal protective equipment and other supplies, testing and more.
“Delaware hospitals are actively working together to share information and resources to best respond to COVID-19 and keep our friends and neighbors healthy,” said Wayne Smith, president and CEO of the Delaware Healthcare Association. “We are fortunate to live in a state with such strong and seamless collaboration among our healthcare systems, Gov. Carney, the Division of Public Health and the Delaware Emergency Management Agency. This is a testament to the strong leadership of each institution and our shared dedication to the health and safety of all Delawareans.”
Delaware’s hospitals report daily to the Delaware Emergency Management Agency and the Division of Public Health on hospital capacity, including bed occupancy. Plans are in place to provide care for patients as the state’s COVID-19 surge occurs. For example, when a surge occurs in one area of the state, patients can be transferred to other local hospitals that have additional capacity. If a surge occurs across multiple hospitals in the state, alternate care sites have been identified to take on existing patients and mitigate an overflow.
Testing is also an area of collaboration between Delaware hospitals and the Division of Public Health. Each healthcare system has set up testing sites around Delaware, covering each county. After learning of higher incidence of COVID-19 in Georgetown, Milford and Millsboro, and particularly in employees of Delaware’s poultry processing plants, Delaware hospitals teamed up with DPH to implement testing in these high-risk areas. Using supplies provided by DPH, Bayhealth deployed dozens of staff members to a local poultry plant to provide screening and testing, while ChristianaCare provided a mobile testing site April 22 in Georgetown with comprehensive bilingual support. Beebe Healthcare, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and ChristianaCare are all involved in this statewide community and targeted testing approach aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and keeping more Delawareans healthy.
Delaware hospitals report regularly on their supplies of personal protective equipment including N95 masks, gowns and other items. These needs can change from hospital to hospital, and from week to week, which is why this collaboration is so important, allowing resources to be shifted and targeted where there is a need.
This seamless coordination stems in part from the emergency preparedness efforts that have been underway in Delaware for years as part of the Healthcare Preparedness Coalition. Through this coalition, Delaware hospitals’ representatives have met regularly to ensure emergency structures and plans are in place.
The Delaware Healthcare Association was formed in 1967 to assist Delaware hospitals in working on issues concerning healthcare and the hospital industry. The statewide trade and membership services organization serves as a leader in the promotion of effective change in health services through collaboration and consensus-building on healthcare issues at the state and federal levels.
The association’s vision is to be the leading and respected voice for hospitals and healthcare delivery systems in Delaware working together to deliver compassionate, accessible, high-quality, financially sustainable healthcare to the patients and communities they serve. DHA’s mission is to provide policy and advocacy leadership in creating an excellent environment for enabling all Delawareans to be as healthy as they can be.