Can we increase capacity in the healthcare system by adapting hotels for quarantine?
Re-purposing unused assets and cultivating community partnerships in response to COVID-19
March 23, 2020 // Romano Nickerson
As our nation continues to struggle with the coronavirus, two strategies have emerged to deal with the crisis. We have all heard about flattening the curve to prevent sick patients from overwhelming our healthcare providers. Another strategy involves increasing the capacity of healthcare systems. As Covid-19 spreads across our country, healthcare providers will encounter patient loads that overwhelm hospital capacity, at which point they will turn to external resources. In some instances they will need safe, sound, places to house patients who are under quarantine.
Per the CDC, isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease. Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. As we ramp up testing, quarantine capacity will be a pressing demand and hotels can be part of the solution.
PLAN IN ACTION
- Staffing – hotels typically retain only reception and maintenance staff when hosting quarantined patients. The remaining staff to supervise and care for patients come from the healthcare provider and includes ARNPs who can diagnose patients and prescribe medications as needed.
- Cleaning – hospital cleaning crews from the healthcare provider are responsible for all cleaning and room turnover in lieu of hotel cleaning staff.
- Linens – patients use the linens at the hotel, which the hotel will need to dispose of when returning to hosting regular guests. Most limited service hotels (those that do not have full service restaurants, like Courtyard Marriott) handle all of their linens with internal laundry facilities where full service hotels (like Westin) frequently rely on vendors for their linens. That means that in the latter case, the linen supply chain would be part of required planning.
- Food – at one hotel in the Seattle area, patients are being served food from a combination of sources. Hospital food service has ramped up production and is delivering some meals. As the patient population is homeless, the remainder of meals are being prepared and delivered by food banks.
- Logistics – When a healthcare provider wishes to utilize hotel rooms, the hotel would want to be sure to be closed to new arrivals for a set amount of time and to transfer all existing reservations another hotel.
- Finances – hotels that have already provided relief to healthcare providers were offered a flat rate based per available room. Most hotels will look to be compensated at a room rate for full occupancy regardless of the number of rooms used each night. The rate may be around $100 per room per night, but obviously varies by location and circumstance.
As healthcare systems grapple with unprecedented patient volume, it is critical that new processes be quickly developed and effectively implemented to care for patients. Even the most sound of processes can fail if not put in place properly. A value stream map is a critical tool for defining a new process because it helps think through every flow required to stand up a new operation. We have a number of virtual mapping tools we can deploy to help healthcare providers and their community partners to think through a new process and put it into action.
UPDATE 03/27/2020: The Center for Health Design is hosting a form that is connecting hospitals and hotels for this.