To meet surge capacity and to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, a regional crisis task force was established during the first pandemic wave to coordinate the even distribution of COVID-19 patients in the Amsterdam region. Based on a preexisting regional management framework for acute care, this task force was led by physicians experienced in managing mass casualty incidents. A collaborative framework consisting of the regional task force, the national task force, and the region's hospital crisis coordinators facilitated intraregional and interregional patient transfers. After hospital admission rates declined following the first COVID-19 wave, a window of opportunity enabled the task forces to create, standardize, and optimize their patient transfer processes before a potential second wave commenced. Improvement was prioritized according to 3 crucial pillars: process standardization, implementation of new strategies, and continuous evaluation of the decision tree. Implementing the novel "fair share" model as a straightforward patient distribution directive supported the regional task force's decisionmaking. Standardization of the digital patient transfer registration process contributed to a uniform, structured system in which every patient transfer was verifiable on intraregional and interregional levels. Furthermore, the regional task force team was optimized and evaluation meetings were standardized. Lines of communication were enhanced, resulting in increased situational awareness among all stakeholders that indirectly provided a safety net and an improved integral framework for managing COVID-19 care capacities. In this article, we describe enhancements to a patient transfer framework that can serve as an exemplary system to meet surge capacity demands during current and future pandemics.
- Emergency preparedness
- Health planning organizations
- Load balancing
- Surge capacity
- Transportation of patients