Hospitals and the Technology to Fight Covid-19

Hospitals and healthcare workers are bearing the brunt of the Covid-19 outbreak across the world.  Everywhere people are trying to flatten the curve of the infection rate as Stay Home directives and self-quarantines are put in place.  People are worried about the burden on the hospitals, staff, and the aging technology and infrastructure they rely on.

Hospitals are Prioritized by the Government and Network Providers

The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, has announced the Keep Americans Connected Initiative that directly prioritizes hospitals.  Congress appropriated $200 million dollars for the Covid-19 Telehealth Program that will support healthcare providers by purchasing broadband connectivity and all other telecommunication necessities to support hospitals and telehealth initiatives during this outbreak.

“When first responders and federal, state and local agencies on the frontlines need us— for mobile testing or quarantine sites or making sure healthcare professionals are able to connect with patients and each other—Verizon is here to serve.”

– Andrés Irlando

The network providers have been asked in this initiative to specifically prioritize hospitals.  Over 650 companies have signed the pledge.  Verizon has been working hard to support hospitals and the infrastructure they need in order to stay connected to patients and to test and treat coronavirus with connected technologies, including digital records, and lab results.  In an update on March 25th, Verizon’s Senior Vice President, Andrés Irlando said, “When first responders and federal, state and local agencies on the frontlines need us— for mobile testing or quarantine sites or making sure healthcare professionals are able to connect with patients and each other—Verizon is here to serve.”  And they are working to provide hospitals with the secure and reliable networks they need to fight the outbreak.

Protecting Patients with New Approaches

Protecting patients without coronavirus has been a major concern for hospitals who are expecting a surge in coronavirus cases.  Naval Hospital ships such as the USNS Comfort, which was deployed to New York City, and the USNS Mercy, which is to support the West Coast, are tasked to care for hospital patients who do not have Covid-19.  On March 28-29th Verizon worked with the Navy to give the USNS Comfort the critical connectivity it will rely on for treating patients.  Non-Covid-19-patients without the coronavirus will be transferred from hospitals to these ships in order to provide safety for the vulnerable patients and to prevent overcrowding in the hospital.

To keep patients and staff safe and limit exposure, testing for the coronavirus is often being conducted in tents outside of hospitals or conducting drive through screening on potential covid-19 cases.  People are screened in their cars by staff, and then directed to return home and self-quarantine until their test results are returned.

Patients inside the hospitals are using the internet in hospitals to stay connected with the outside world during their isolated recovery from coronavirus.  One German woman started a twitter based Corona Diary.  And countless other patients use technology every day to reach out to loved ones from the hospital.

Technology Helps Us Come Together Through Isolation

As people struggle with the emotional burden of isolation it is important to remember that extraordinary times still bring forward extraordinary people.  Designers in New York City like Christian Siriano and others are trying to help by making masks for hospitals.  Even though cloth masks aren’t as effective, they can be used by those not treating Covid-19 patients, and free up the N95 and surgical masks for those who really need them.  Researchers at William & Mary and MIT have answered the call to donate their unopened Personal Protective Equipment for laboratory use to local hospitals and health workers.

 “An internet-connected thermometer from Kinsa Health is proving that the rate of new fevers is dropping as soon as Stay At Home Directives are issued.”

 

The impact of Coronavirus worldwide has been far-reaching, but together we will come through it.  We know that the virus is particularly problematic for elderly citizens so there has been extra effort to enforce social distancing from elderly citizens in order to protect them.  The good news is that it’s working.  Staying connected via the phone and internet and staying home is starting to flatten the growth curve of fevers, which are a primary indication of Covid-19.

An internet-connected thermometer from Kinsa Health is proving that the rate of new fevers is dropping as soon as “Stay At Home” directives are issued.  Technology helps us prove that “Stay at Home” is helping to slow the spread.  And there is hope too, brought to us through the internet from Italy.  A 101-year-old Italian man was recently released from the hospital after defeating the Coronavirus.  Mr. P. survived the Spanish Flu in 1919, the Holocaust, and now beat Coronavirus at 101 years of age.  If he can survive all of that, we can make it through this too.