Jorge Valdez
Dean
Tecnológico de Monterrey School of Medicine and Health Sciences (TecSalud)
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TecSalud Response Levels to Face COVID-19

By Miriam Bello | Tue, 09/01/2020 - 10:45

Q: How has TecSalud contributed to the fight against COVID-19?

A: TecSalud has demonstrated its response capacity at all levels. We initially evaluated the pandemic’s possible risks before it even hit Mexico, right when China and Europe were at the peak of contagion. By observing the global environment, we were able to analyze how best to react and where to begin to create a strategic response to the pandemic. TecSalud created a COVID-Committee to analyze how the pandemic would affect Mexico, the healthcare sector and our institution. Thanks to these efforts, TecSalud and Tecnológico de Monterrey could support their decision-making and respond quickly to the upcoming challenges of COVID-19. As an educational institution, we were the first private education institutions in the country to cancel classes in campus and migrate to 100 percent online educational model. This has been an enormous effort, considering that this environment will have to support us for a long time. Right now, we are entering a new semester with virtual classes and the students have the option to migrate to a hybrid (Digital plus Flexible Model) educational model in the future. As for our medical academic centers, we assessed our bed and hospital capacity to optimize resources and expansion of our facilities, particularly in the ICU area. Based on the figures from other countries, we had a rough idea of what to expect in regards to hospitalized patient numbers and ventilator demand. All cases of COVD-19 that require hospitalization are assigned to our San José Hospital, which became the largest private COVID-19 hospital in the country. This has allowed us to standardize our attention as we have doctors fully dedicated to COVID-19 patients. However, they do consult the patient’s regular doctor to understand the person’s general condition. Our frontline COVID-19 doctors are generally specialists in pneumology, infectiology and internal medicine; they are critical medicine residents or intensivists. We moved all postgraduate students doing their medical training specialty, to support our COVID-19 efforts. Our students in the mental health area are also joining our efforts to support families and medical professionals during these difficult times.

After this, we started a training program for all our medical staff so we could have them ready to act but also to protect them from contagion. We generated an open virtual training platform with different courses for all segments of the public with the goal of offering support to all medical professionals on the frontline of the pandemic. We teach intubation procedures, ethics and mental health support approaches, among other topics. This was an innovative project that demonstrated the potential of technology and how we can promote it and reach more people.

Finally, we have strongly driven our research capacities to contribute to find a cure or treatment and also to generate scientific information to prevent and fight COVID-19. We are doing clinical trials on some drugs to test their effectiveness against COVID-19 and developing our own technology. TecSalud has around 70 members in the National Research System, which amounts to the same research capacity of a federal institute. This has led to many initiatives, including biomedical engineering projects such as the first Mexican ventilator VSZ-20-2. We have also used technology to keep patients in contact with their families as they are going through everything alone during their hospital stay. This has also been useful for goodbyes when the person is in a very critical health situation. We also offer spiritual support and accompaniment. 

I think that our integral response has demonstrated the huge potential that healthcare systems such as TecSalud, which integrates public-private initiatives, have to continue supporting the country to increase its healthcare coverage and to start developing its own research and technology to be competitive against other countries. If initiatives like these were supported around the country, we would develop Mexican potential to its fullest and greatly contribute to foster adequate healthcare. Mexico City and Monterrey have this part covered; the capital hosts the most important institutes in the country, which have also demonstrated that they are what the country needs because of their academic and professional approaches to healthcare.

We are very interested in educating the community because we know that the only way to prevent the virus is through everyone’s collaboration. We began generating informational material about all preventive measures based on WHO’s guidelines and we started to filter all the information in response to the amount of fake news and misinformation that social media started to generate. We are still generating that content. We as an Institution are an official spokesperson to the country, so why not use it positively to avoid an infodemic of false information and share reliable information?

Q: How will the school ensure continuity on practical subjects for the next semester?

A: Tecnológico de Monterrey created a special committee in charge of evaluating a safe return to classes, whether in campus or digital model, to ensure academic continuity. We have worked along this committee to create a strategy for our students. We modified all our teaching models as we migrated to digital platforms to be able to offer virtual experiences with the same value as any training course. Our plans for our students are to continue again to train in campus and in hospitals and some of them are now back at their training, undertakings at non-COVID-19 facilities. We have created hybrid educational models where all practical learning can be complemented by virtual teaching.

COVID-19 has drove us to find new educational models and to think outside the box to continue generating and developing students’ abilities. TecSalud is committed to educate the most competent professionals who are also aware of the importance of selfcare and emotional integrity to be able to deliver quality healthcare.

 

 

TecSalud is the Tecnológico de Monterrey Health System, that incorporates innovative clinical, academic, and research services through its Medical Academic Centers. The School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Fundación TecSalud, San José and Zambrano Hellion Hospitals, Health Institutes, and other associated institutions are integrated as part of TecSalud.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst