COVID-19 has affected healthcare providers and facilities across the globe, causing unprecedented circumstances. Front-line doctors, nurses and administrators are reconfiguring inpatient units, closing many outpatient services, and making difficult decisions that no one could have prepared for. In the midst of pandemic planning, one Connecticut hospital faced a new problem it never expected.
On March 7, Stamford Health, a 350-bed hospital in Connecticut, was informed that their primary teleradiology services provider would be going out of business the following week. As a busy hospital performing more than 200,000 exams a year, this news would have been a major challenge under normal circumstances, but located only 38-miles from midtown Manhattan, the hospital was already engaged in full-scale preparation as the emerging COVID-19 pandemic bloomed in the metro NYC area. Dr. Brian Stainken, Chair of the Department of Radiology at Stamford Health, needed to establish a new teleradiology platform and network in only one week. After speaking to several teleradiology providers, Direct Radiology was the solution to this urgent need.
By mid-March, Stamford Hospital carried a census of more than 150 COVID patients with as many as 65 ventilator dependent, their ICU capacity quadrupled, they reopened a previously vacant inpatient area of the hospital to accommodate COVID patients, and they reconfigured both in- and out-patient processes. In-house radiology refocused on inpatient chest x-ray and CT scans, mostly on COVID patients. Outpatient facilities developed new procedures to facilitate social distancing, such as eliminating waiting rooms and instructing outpatients to wait in their cars until they received a text that the team was ready to see them. Direct Radiology was able to offer additional support by working with Stamford’s IT team to rapidly set up emergency, and then permanent, PACS connectivity. Within a week, the team stood up an interface that would normally take months to develop and launch. “We worked together to set up a new network and platform. The Direct Radiology team also hired some of the radiologists displaced by our previous teleradiology vendor knowing that they could help to expedite seamless support with no interruption in coverage for patients. It was remarkable – no interruption in service, no impact on turnaround times, all while COVID was ramping up. I have to thank Direct Radiology for helping us to navigate this dramatic shift. We couldn’t have done it without them,” remarked Dr. Stainken.
As of the week of April 20, Dr. Stainken confirmed that Stamford Health is starting to see a decrease in COVID patients coming through the hospital for treatment and they are busy preparing for a return to more normal operations.