“It was unprecedented, what we had to do,” Schilling said of converting the paper charts to a digital format. “Literally, when we walked in on that Monday, we saw stacks of paper.”
The project development team had to find space for the new respiratory evaluation clinic. One thought was to erect drive-through tents, but by March 10 they had decided to co-opt empty space in the original Stanford Hospital building. The following day, facilities workers were painting, having already scrubbed down the walls, retrofitted the space, mapped out furniture placement so everyone would be safe, fixed air flow and stocked the rooms with supplies.
Next came the opening of the call center, where nurses answer questions, offer advice about the illness, conduct initial assessments and schedule further screening and testing appointments as needed. The first center was in a conference room, but as the number of calls and staff grew, it was moved to office space to allow for social distancing.
On March 13, a Friday, the team began testing at the clinic, then spent the weekend working out kinks. IT workers spent March 15 putting the first phase of the electronic record-keeping system in place, doing in one day what usually takes four to six weeks, Jazmin said.
The next day the respiratory evaluation clinic was officially open for business.
The integration of the electronic health care system for workers with the data collection operation was completed the first week of April.
Caring for the workers
In the first few days, about 4,000 phone calls were fielded, said Jazmin, who manages the clinic. As of April 13, 2,600 employees had been tested and only 3% of them were positive for COVID-19. By comparison, nearly 9% of tests on symptomatic people in surrounding communities came back positive, and 10-20% of tests on health care workers across the country did, Schilling said.
Besides being screened and tested at the center, workers are counseled about what to do while they wait for test results — primarily, to go home and stay isolated from other people until they know if they have the illness. Workers who test positive for COVID-19 are then advised about how to monitor their health at home, what to do if their symptoms worsen, and the steps required before they can go back to work.
The clinic also advises workers caring for patients on how to protect themselves at work, such as when to wear masks or other personal protection equipment, said Amy Semple, administration director for operations for interventional platforms.
“It’s a very scary time for taking care of people,” she said, adding that worried workers need information in real time.
A crisis response
Nolan and others said that units across Stanford Medicine — facilities, information technology, clinical staffing, operations, emergency services and many more — gave everything they could to bring the project together.
“Everybody has stayed up late, come in early and broken all kinds of barriers of speed records to get stuff done, and they did it without any cutting corners,” Nolan said. “There’s this sense of good cheer and camaraderie in this mission of taking care of ourselves and our colleagues with this work that has really just brought out the best in everybody. Literally everybody we called has done anything they could to help us right now.”