The challenges of medical surge related to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is the topic of a new NFPA Journal Podcast out now. Listen to the entire 45-minute, special-edition episode online now. Or download it wherever you get your podcast.
America's health care system is now experiencing a surge in patients with COVID-19, leading facilities and emergency responders to increase capacity and adapt in myriad ways. What will the health care surge mean for fire and life safety at existing health care facilities desperate to expand their patient capacity? What will it mean for responders on the front lines facing supply shortages? Learn how states are gearing up to address the crisis by erecting off-site field hospitals, creating makeshift floating hospitals, and repurposing other buildings to meet the medical demand.
The first segment of the podcast includes an interview I conducted with Jon Hart, an NFPA technical lead who is well-versed in codes applicable to health care facilities such as NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code, and NFPA 101, Life Safety Code. In our 15-minute interview, Hart discusses the recent federal announcements to delay code enforcement activities in some health care facilities and what it means for fire and life safety at those locations. He doesn't pull any punches in saying the coronavirus pandemic could result in some less-than-ideal facility safety situations, but it's all about prioritizing in this unprecedented time. "Let's look for the big, obvious safety violations and things that are truly a hazard," Hart tells me, "but smaller things that may not be perfectly in compliance, they may just have to slip."
In the second segment of the podcast (at 17:40), my colleague Jesse Roman interviews John Montes, NFPA's emergency services specialist. Montes describes what could happen in the United States if the coronavirus-spawned health care surge becomes so severe that we have to provide care to patients in settings outside of traditional hospitals—places like repurposed hotels, docked cruise ships, and mobile field hospitals like those used in the military. Some locations are already planning for this process. "We have to think bigger, bigger scale [for this pandemic]," Montes says in the podcast. "We could potentially find ourselves in a situation where we are in more of a wartime footing where we are making exemptions and we are using outside resources to make this happen."
The NFPA Journal Podcast is a monthly series. Listen to past episodes here, including the March 13 episode on crisis standards of care and how emergency response agencies should be preparing for the unfolding crisis. Subscribe to NFPA Journal Podcast wherever you get your podcasts.