With the United States facing a new and increasing wave of cases, we took time to speak with Alpesh Amin, MD, MBA of the University of California Irvine Medical Center about their early experience with COVID-19. Dr. Amin is the Chair of Medicine, Executive Director of Hospital Medicine and Professor of Medicine at UC Irvine, and an Expertscape Expert in several topics.

Expertscape: Dr. Amin, let’s jump right in. Being that California was among the earliest areas in the US affected by the pandemic, were you ready for the virus and how did you initially respond?

Dr. Amin: Truthfully, we were very fortunate in that the hospital was well-prepared to handle cases and care as a result of investments we have been making in infrastructure, training, protocols, collaboration, etc., all of which made it much easier for us to then introduce other innovations and procedures quickly to better respond to the challenges the virus posed. Being able to leverage programs and experience already in place allowed our care teams to collaborate and respond effectively right from the start, and that set the foundation for us to add new capabilities that proved especially effective.

Expertscape: What kinds of new capabilities, specifically?

Dr. Amin: We established dedicated COVID teams on both Hospital Medicine floors and in the Medical ICU, and implemented a step-up escalation process. We did a lot around monitoring and screening, and focused on mechanisms to anticipate patient surge. Perhaps most critical to our success, we made staff morale and well-being a priority. And we were early to engage in clinical trials, most specifically with Remdesivir.

Expertscape: This pandemic is in many ways new territory. Were there any particular tools that helped with your response?

Dr. Amin: We had a lot to draw on, but one particular tool is worth highlighting. We used an application with artificial intelligence that enabled us to predict whether our patients would require intubation or ICU level care in the next 72-hours. This helped us risk-stratify patients accordingly, and assess the need for admission or discharge. As you can imagine, this helped considerably with anticipating surge, resource allocation, staffing and various other care delivery considerations.

Expertscape: It’s an impressive achievement, to be able to mobilize so much and do it so quickly. What has been the result?

Dr. Amin: That’s the best news, and something we’re really proud of. As part of its data efforts, Vizient analyzed COVID-19 performance metrics for hospitals throughout the country, and UCI Medical Center was the top hospital in California and one of top five hospitals in the country. Which is a significant achievement, especially given that we handled a proportionally larger case load relative to our facility size. And while we continue to deal with the challenges of the pandemic, and we continue to learn and innovate, it’s encouraging to see the investments we’ve made in training, in infrastructure, in procedures, and many other areas of care delivery pay off so visibly. Again, I’m so proud of the team and how well they responded, and continue to respond.

Expertscape: That’s excellent news, and congratulations on the recognition from Vizient. And thank you for your time, Dr. Amin. We wish you continued success to you and your team.

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