COVID-19 Safety News Briefs
May 9, 2020
At South Shore Hospital, clinicians temporarily displaced from their usual work by COVID-19 are helping their colleagues use video to keep families involved with patients and care teams. Re-deployed in intensive care and other units, they ease the physical and emotional workload by giving clinical updates and discussing goals of care with families.

All volunteered for temporary assignments after COVID-19 forced suspension of most outpatient and elective health services. They come from different specialties, and two recent retirees are helping out as well. All bring their medical training as well as good communication skills to the job.

The work is often emotionally challenging. Karin Sloan, M.D., who coordinates the program, notes, “It takes a certain type of person to be able to do this work.” A 30-minute daily meeting helps provide the group with mutual support.

The Betsy Lehman Center is hosting a virtual conversation for patients who rely on kidney dialysis and are concerned about their health and safety during the pandemic. The session, Friday, May 15 at noon, will feature rapid fire presentations from a nephrologist, kidney patient, and a dialysis center and home dialysis nurse manager as well as an opportunity for patients to have a conversation with the presenters. The town hall is a partnership among the Center and two non-profit organizations who work with kidney patients and local dialysis clinics in New England and beyond, American Kidney Fund and IPRO.

Patients’ preferences for life-sustaining treatment can and do need to change over time. But the current pandemic was making it difficult for some individuals to document their wishes on official forms. As a result, the state now directs emergency medical personnel to honor “Do not resuscitate” and other medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST) when clinicians document verbal consent from patients or their legal advocates. MOLST forms also address patients’ wishes regarding intubation and use of a ventilator, two elements of care for those most sickened by COVID-19.

Honoring Choices Massachusetts asked the state to allow for verbal consent to complete or revise a MOLST form when in-person consent is not possible, a change that went into effect last month. Its website has additional information and a sample of the protocol used by one medical center in the state to document a patient’s verbal consent.
COVID-19 Online Learning

>> Pregnancy and COVID-19:  Virtual town halls to share challenges and innovations hosted by the Betsy Lehman Center and the Perinatal-Neonatal Quality Improvement Network of Massachusetts. Every Tuesday at noon.  See the agenda and sign up here.

>> Medication Safety During COVID-19: What Have We Learned?  A webinar offered by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices and ECRI. Tuesday May 12 at 1 p.m.  Register here.

Thank you, readers, for generously sharing stories about ways you are not just coping with COVID-19, but adapting and improving work along the way. We’d love to share even more of them in this newsletter. Please  let us know  about how your organization is managing challenges presented by the pandemic.