An article analyses the transformation of Vall d’Hebron to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic

A study published in the Journal of Healthcare Quality Research describes the transformation process at the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital in response to the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The study, published by the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) Health Services research group, is titled “Transforming a public university hospital and its area of influence into a comprehensive resource in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Its aim is to offer useful information on effective management and organisational strategies and provide valid resources for other hospitals internationally when having to respond to future pandemics.

Based on four central pillars, the article describes the strategy adopted by hospital managers to transform it in response to the pandemic. These pillars are: early planning, coordination of all healthcare agents in its reference area, definition of clear leadership functions, and organising care based on multidisciplinary teams with minimal recruitment of new staff.

The authors review the strategy for coordinating and planning the main response measures adopted by the Hospital Management Committee, such as creating a COVID-19 Task Force and planning the organisational transformation of the hospital during the pandemic and leadership of the coordination of all healthcare agents in the area, to ensure more efficient distribution of patients and resources. The article also defines the four phases in which the response to the first wave of the pandemic (preparation, early response, intensive response and recovery) can be divided and defines the main actions in each.

According to the authors, the transformation strategy enabled the hospital to handle the wave of patients without exceeding its capacity. Thus, during the response phase, which lasted 57 days, 3,106 patients visited A&E and 2,054 were hospitalised, 346 of whom were treated in the Intensive Care Unit. Indeed, the ICU was the resource that underwent the greatest transformation to deal with the large number of critical patients caused by the coronavirus, its gradual extension reaching 371% capacity, while hospital bed numbers rose by 240. A total of 671 professionals took sick leave after testing positive for COVID-19.

In conclusion, the study provides a vision of how to effectively adapt the structure and function of a major hospital in exceptional situations thanks to the experience acquired by hospital professionals. The study also underlines territorial coordination as an effective strategy to prevent hospitals exceeding their capacity.

The authors review the strategy for coordinating and planning the main response measures adopted by the Hospital Management Committee.

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