Juan Galindo
Chief Medical Officer
CHRISTUS MUGUERZA
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Undisrupted Operation Through Effective Planning, Safety Measures

By Miriam Bello | Wed, 01/20/2021 - 19:06

Q: How has CHRISTUS MUGUERZA responded to the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: Influenza AH1N1 was our first experience in how to face a pandemic, so we had a starting point to begin planning coverage across our entire health system. CHRISTUS MUGUERZA’s plan considered three aspects. The first was the safety of our associates and physicians who were to treat COVID-19 patients. Secondly, to ensure the best care for people suffering from COVID-19. The last factor was to educate the community on the disease and ways to prevent contagion.

We based our response on what we observed in Italy and Spain, as they were the first major hubs for the virus. In a way, their experience was an example for us on how to correctly approach patients. We organized response teams at all of our hospitals in the country to ensure a coordinated response. These are formed by the medical director of each hospital and another three to five specialists, ideally a pneumologist, an infectologist and/or an intensivist. They have been in charge of the management of COVID-19 patients within CHRISTUS MUGUERZA’s facilities to ensure that they are being treated with evidence-based treatments.

Our response has resulted in a 7.4 percent mortality rate and at our best performing hospital, the number falls to 4 percent. These are low rates. Despite facing an overflow of patients at one point, we were able to balance the workload and ensure our associates’ safety and our patients’ prosperity. From the emergency room to the intensive care unit, we defined protocols that detailed the actions of everyone involved in the process, from the physicians to the cleaning services team.

We hold meetings with all response teams to get feedback and improve the protocols whenever we can. Three times a week, we conduct an online safety huddle with around 140 associates to understand the status of our supplies and to ensure a safe operation. From the beginning of the year, CHRISTUS MUGUERZA planned for the provision of protective equipment for all our collaborators and physicians. Moreover, we created protocols on how to get this equipment on and off safely. There was a national shortage of propofol that lasted around a month. However, our stock planning reduced our shortage to two weeks and during this time we created an alternative protocol for sedating patients. During the seven months of the pandemic, we have had just one infected associate within CHRISTUS MUGUERZA.

Furthermore, it was very important for us to provide continuity for our regular medical appointments. Emergency situations do not stop and nor do treatments for patients with chronic diseases, so all our hospitals followed a hybrid modality to ensure continuity of attention for non-COVID-19 patients. In addition, we have two hospitals and one ambulatory center that are non-COVID-19 facilities.

To educate people and spread truthful information, we shared scientific papers and releases on COVID-19 and we organized webinars where people could talk to medical professionals about their concerns and then act based on a trusted opinion. We worked together with state authorities to disseminate trustworthy information about the pandemic.

Thanks to our previous experience with lung transplants, CHRISTUS MUGUERZA carried out a lung transplant for a patient suffering from the aftermath of COVID-19. The virus was so aggressive on him that his lungs were destroyed. Before the transplant, the patient was put on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation therapy) until we could secure the organs for him as the National Center for Transplants had closed due to the pandemic. After 52 days, the lung transplant was successfully carried out by our experienced physicians.

Q: How IS CHRISTUS MUGUERZA participating in the digital transformation of the CHRISTUS network?

A: One of our hospitals in Saltillo, Coahuila has been fully digitalized. We were aware of the need to integrate our system to an interconnected digital world that could improve our personalized attention. We began by integrating an electronic medical record (EMR) at our facilities to encourage full digitalization. The EMR we use covers the complete care of a patient and every member of the staff has learned to use it. The implementation process took years and so did the training. However, we have had positive results from its implementation. The EMR allowed us to interconnect all areas of the hospital and provides higher levels of safety for the staff. It can help avoid mistakes in everything from medications to room availability.

Q: How does the network ensure that more patients have the access to your integral service offering?

A: CHRISTUS MUGUERZA is a nonprofit organization. All the earnings we generate go to taxes, reinvestment to strengthen our performance and to social community service. Our social responsibility has enabled us to provide expensive care to children in different parts of the country. We have attention centers that range from primary care to higher levels of care and we take our services to zones that lack access to healthcare. Moreover, we invest MX$50 million (US$2.4 million) in our residency training program that is directed at 150 medical students.

Q: What are CHRISTUS MUGUERZA’s short-term goals or priorities?

A: Mexico is entering into the flu season, so we have to be aware of all respiratory diseases that might present. We have already integrated this into our COVID-19 protocols. The second priority is to ensure care continuity for non-COVID-19 patients. The third is financial stability. We have expansion plans we are looking forward to resuming because we are convinced that, more than ever, Mexico needs organizations like CHRISTUS MUGUERZA.

 

CHRISTUS MUGUERZA started operations in the city of Monterrey in 1934 and later joined the CHRISTUS Health system in 2001. The group has 11 hospitals, four ambulatory clinics and 14 outpatient medical centers as well as five social assistance clinics

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst