What made infection control more difficult during the pandemic? What made it easier? Were hospitals prepared? What must we do to be better prepared? What will the new normal look like for hospitals?
Dr Karl Evans Henson, Director, Hospital Infection Control & Epidemiology Center, The Medical City
Prof. Quek Swee Chye, Chairman Medical Board, National University Hospital
Linda Burgoyne, Chief Executive Officer, Matilda International Hospital
Dr Koh Hau Tek, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jiahui Health
Dealing with COVID-19 has been made more challenging because of the lack of information about the pandemic, especially during the early months of 2020 when information about the infection is still difficult to verify, thus, it is also difficult to disseminate accurate information to patients and staff.
Another critical factor that made infection control prevention difficult is supply chain disruption due to movement restrictions. The panel agrees that supply chain leaders will play a bigger role in the hospital from this pandemic, as hospitals need to find new partners and reconfigure their supply chains to ensure sufficient amount of personal protective equipment is available to healthcare workers.
Still, infection control during the pandemic hinges on a swift response from hospital leaders. Making decisions on the fly, investing in these decisions, and adapting to what is available have been effective. For instance, hospitals fast-tracked their digital transformation journeys to prevent the spread of infection. Contact-tracing applications and teleconsultations are used more widely.
- We can never be underprepared or over-prepared with a pandemic this huge.
- Hospitals need to be more agile and more flexible.
- Having an adequate amount of PPE is important in infection control measures.
- We have learned from SARS in 2003, and are now better prepared in terms of infection control, specifically handling PPE and protecting our staff.