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Constancy and Collaboration in the COVID-19 Era

Stockpiling personal protective equipment. Mainstreaming telehealth. Suspending elective medical procedures. These are all part of “the new normal” of delivering health care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As health care administrators, providers and support staff everywhere grapple with these changes, Johns Hopkins has worked with the Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) to find ways to maintain constancy in our collaboration.

When we began working with BHB this time last year, we certainly didn’t foresee that a new coronavirus would disrupt our industry and our lives. JHI’s mission, however, is to help prepare health systems to provide continuous, high-quality care within their own communities — even in the face of steep challenges.

Leaders and clinicians from Johns Hopkins and BHB have been resilient and resourceful in finding ways to continue to enhance medical services and education in Bermuda.

As the COVID-19 pandemic grew, we acted quickly to keep our work moving forward to improve subspecialty care — particularly in stroke and rehabilitation services — and to ensure BHB’s patients have access to high-quality psychiatric care.

Specialists in acute stroke care from both institutions conduct monthly support calls to develop protocols BHB can implement as it works toward launching a comprehensive stroke program that integrates prevention, pre-hospital care, acute care, rehabilitation and re-entry into the community.

BHB and Johns Hopkins colleagues from physical medicine and rehabilitation also speak via phone each month to review clinical metrics and evaluate patient outcomes to improve specific rehabilitation services, including physical, occupational, speech and recreational therapy programs.

Because behavioral health and psychiatry are also priority areas of focus for our collaboration, BHB mental health providers receive continued — although remote — support from their JHM counterparts on patient cases. Our subspecialty experts provide informal consultation based on their own experiences and evidence-based best practices.

Additionally, BHB’s chief of psychiatry continues to have regular contact with physician advisers and clinical experts from Johns Hopkins for peer-to-peer mentorship on developing and delivering comprehensive mental health services.

To me, these activities are a true testament to our staff members’ commitment and creativity. It’s difficult to predict when normal operations will resume, but when they do, we want to help ensure BHB is poised for strategic progress in improving medical and mental health services on the island.

Irma Purisch, M.B.A., is managing director of the Americas team of JHI’s Global Services division. She develops proposals and manages education and consulting projects in hospitals outside of the United States. Ms. Purisch has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, strategic planning, international contract negotiation, venture capital investment, financial analysis and human resources.


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