If the COVID-19 crisis has taught us anything (and it’s already taught us a LOT), it’s that not all the good ideas are coming from Washington.
But hats off to the government when it recognizes someone else’s smart approach and runs with it.
Consider, for example, a truly good idea announced earlier this week by President Donald Trump. After meeting with over a dozen health care executives at the White House, Trump announced a “dynamic ventilator reserve” program. It’s designed to help hospitals deal with the shortage of lifesaving ventilators, which are essential to caring for coronavirus patients, by forging partnerships to enable hospitals to lend unused surplus ventilators to areas in need.
There are 60,000 available ventilators across the country, and the program would help get the critical devices and related supplies like tubing and filters to areas that need them immediately.
Three of the initial participating hospital systems — HCA Healthcare, Cleveland Clinic and Ascension — operate in Florida.
So, hopefully, the program will soon help desperate patients in states that, to this point, have been hit far worse than Florida. And if Florida needs additional ventilator support, we’ll have access to that supply at many of our community hospitals.
One of the executives attending the White House meeting was Sam Hazen, CEO of HCA Healthcare, which is Florida’s most extensive safety-net hospital system and cares for roughly one-third of Florida’s hospitalized COVID-19 patients. He spoke of the need for greater collaboration with other hospital systems, and public-private partnerships at the local, state and federal levels, to fight the COVID-19 battle. And he’s right; We need more unity in health care today.
Florida Politics reported more than a week ago about how HCA Healthcare was early to recognize the importance of logistics to keep coronavirus in check. The hospital system, which is caring for COVID-19 patients across its almost 50 hospitals in Florida, had already utilized its extensive network to help areas in need, redirecting ventilators and equipment to New York and New Jersey to meet surging demands.
The White House’s “dynamic ventilator reserve” program formalizes the process of hospitals working together to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Through the program, hospitals and health care systems will be able to input available equipment to an online database. Providers will access the virtual inventory as their need for ventilators increases.
The program is a collaborative effort between public and private health care providers, supported by FEMA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
As reported, the White House response to coronavirus has extended beyond the health care industry. Trump has also enlisted automakers and other companies to increase ventilator production to replenish U.S. stockpiles.
The target is for the U.S. to produce 150,000 to 200,000 ventilators by the end of the year, up from 30,000 last year.
But every bit helps, especially things that can be done right now to get the resources where they’re most needed immediately.
The dynamic ventilator reserve program is an example of how the federal government can provide the coordination to do things right — and that includes recognizing good ideas where it sees them.