As COVID-19 forces health systems to find new and innovative ways to provide care while protecting clinicians and patients, CoxHealth turned to virtual visits and 3D printing.
“I’m proud of how the organization sprang into action to quickly find ingenious solutions,” said Cheryl Hertel, vice president and client leader, Cerner ITWorksSM.
3D printing and laser cutting used to protect employees
With a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), CoxHealth turned to the local Missouri State University’s Jordan Valley Innovation Center to help create face shields. Leveraging laser cutting and 3D printing, they collaborated to design a cleanable and reusable face shield using existing eye shield frames, which were in ample supply.
When the crisis hit, staff began cutting, printing and assembling face shields that meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirements. CoxHealth workers assembled thousands of shields for any employee with patient contact, from EMS workers to the registration desk, to provide an additional barrier between patients and employees and help extend the usage of other hard-to-find PPE, such as surgical or N95 masks.
“We've created a culture of innovation at CoxHealth, so that mindset is available when we need it most,” said Scott Rogers, system director of innovation. “This project was about preparation, not desperation. If we didn’t leverage our local resources to design a reusable product, there’s the possibility we wouldn’t have enough masks and face shields to protect our staff and prevent the spread of the virus even further. Now we're able to keep our staff safe. ”
Following the success, CoxHealth posted the face-mask printing instructions on its website, while ITWorks associates encouraged other clients to print their own face shields.
Flexibility amidst adversity
CoxHealth is also turning to other solutions to continue providing care. Employees are flexing to work in other departments as necessary, and more than 3,500 employees began working remotely. To make this transition, ITWorks associates helped CoxHealth workers strengthen the organization’s bandwidth to handle the increased internet usage.
“We’re doing everything we can to prepare for this crisis,” said Hertel. “It's our mission to provide quality care for those who need us, and we're working to ensure that we're adequately prepared to support the needs of the health system during this unprecedented time.”
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