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Leaders at Southlake adopting emerging best practices in caring for patients with COVID-19

Tuesday May 12, 2020

Innovative approach for physicians and clinical leaders at Southlake to adopt emerging best practices in caring for patients with COVID-19

Physicians and clinical teams at Southlake typically have the benefit of decades of research and medical literature to inform their day-to-day approach when caring for patients. One of the biggest challenges of COVID-19 is that it is caused by a new strain of virus previously undetected in humans. As a result, there are no known treatments.

As cases began spreading in Wuhan, China, across Asia and then in Europe, information began emerging from clinical teams that were treating the first COVID-19 patients. Case reports were being released in near-real time from individual hospitals, as well as early analysis on the most common symptoms and potential treatment options.

Southlake’s physicians and interprofessional clinical teams could not wait for precise best practices to be crystalized, as our first patient with COVID-19 was admitted to our Intensive Care Unit on March 16, 2020, just five days after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak as a pandemic.

Realizing that a structure was required to manage the intake of emerging evidence and to promote efficient decision-making, physician leaders at Southlake formed the COVID-19 Clinical Advisory Panel (“CCAP”) in late March.

CCAP’s membership includes physician leaders, various clinical directors, and Southlake’s Infection Prevention and Control leadership. The group is co-chaired by Dr. John Randle, the President of Southlake’s Medical Staff Association and Physician Leader of Quality and Safety, and Dr. Julius Toth, Southlake’s Physician Leader of the Surgical Program. CCAP typically meets three times per week virtually using Microsoft Teams.

The overarching objective of CCAP is to minimize the time it takes for new ideas that have worked elsewhere to be successfully implemented at Southlake. “CCAP is effectively a clearing house for new ideas and emerging evidence,” said Dr. Randle. “We use the committee to consider what is happening in both our peer hospitals in Ontario as well as facilities around the world, and determine how we should respond at Southlake.”

CCAP serves as a complement to the work of senior leaders in Southlake’s Emergency Operations Centre, who are in charge of the day-to-day operational and strategic response to COVID-19. Leaders in the Emergency Operations Centre can refer specific clinical questions to CCAP for deliberation and, in turn, CCAP can bring back recommendations.

“CCAP has allowed for a nimble approach to get physician input to support clinical decision-making across the organization,” said Dr. Toth. “Things are changing rapidly and there has been no shortage of important clinical issues for the committee to consider.”

Apart from an ongoing review of emerging best practices in the medical treatment of patients with COVID-19, CCAP also advises on personal protective equipment practices for specific medical procedures and works in Southlake’s simulation lab to proactively identify risks and develop the best possible processes to help keep patients, staff, and physicians safe.

“We foresee an interesting evolving role for CCAP as various clinical programs start to gradually ramp back up again,” said Dr. Steve Beatty, Chief of Staff at Southlake. “COVID-19 will not disappear overnight and going forward we will need to consider the safest way to provide care. This committee will play an important role to guide those discussions.”