Pop-up clinical space? Yale researchers report solution to a surge in flu cases

When Yale physicians turned a conference room into a fully operational treatment unit for flu patients, they built a model that could help other institutions.

During the 2017-2018 flu season, Yale physicians responded to a surge of patients to the emergency department (ED) and hospital with an unusual solution. They converted a conference room into a fully operational treatment unit, and in the process, built a model that other institutions could adopt when outbreaks occur, according to their recently published study.

While some EDs and hospitals have responded to increased demand for emergency care by erecting mobile tents or temporary structures, that was not an option last year due to the weather and space limits, said lead author Robert Fogerty, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine and director of Bed Resources at Yale New Haven Hospital. Instead, Fogerty and his colleagues decided to respond to patient overflow by converting a large conference room into a clinical space at the hospital.

To do it quickly while maintaining a high standard of care, the researchers devised a plan to treat patients in the converted unit designed to meet all regulatory requirements. From inception to launch, the project took four days, including collaboration with the Department of Public Health. During the course of a weekend, the team screened and treated patients in the converted unit with no complications.

The successful experiment could be repeated in New Haven and at other institutions faced with a sudden and overwhelming surge in cases of flu or other acute illnesses. The study is published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

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Ziba Kashef: ziba.kashef@yale.edu, 203-436-9317