Published on October 14, 2020

Transforming Care to Care for COVID-19 Patients

Jody Case, RN

Jody Case, RN (Photo courtesy of The Concord Monitor)

Transforming Concord Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to care for COVID-19 patients included fast-paced weeks of comprehensive planning, rapid physical renovations and critical care training for nurses brought into the ICU from other parts of the Hospital.

“We were working toward being fully prepared to care for as many as 60 critically ill patients,” said Jody Case, Concord Hospital’s Director of Critical Care. She and others worked long days, seven days a week, to prepare special patient rooms, add and train nurses, obtain supplies and protective equipment, learn about COVID-19, keep staff well-informed and stay ahead of the potential need.

“It was some of the most outstanding work I’ve seen this organization do,” she said. “There was not a person in the organization who really wasn’t ‘game on.’”

The effort included ICU boot camp-type training for up to 85 nurses transferred into the unit or former ICU nurses who were invited back to help.

The most visible change was renovating rooms to become ‘negative pressure’ rooms, designed with advanced ventilation and filtration to prevent any airborne virus from contaminating adjacent areas. New ante rooms gave nurses and other providers adequate space to safely put on and remove layers of protective gear.

“Walls and doors went up in days,” Case said, and modifications such as adding windows to the new doors were prompt. “It was so quick and done with a can-do attitude.”

The changes ensured the ICU staff could care for COVID-19 patients in a designated area while keeping other critically ill patients safe. During the spring, the ICU typically cared for 14 to 15 patients a day, including 3-5 COVID-19 patients a day. Case said she and her colleagues felt total support from the Hospital in the face of daily changes in COVID-19 knowledge and response.

“It wasn’t necessarily about the money,” she said. “It wasn’t about the logistics. It was about ‘This is what we have to have to make our staff safe,’ and once you realize you are going with that mentality, you had full trust.”