Conquering COVID 


The staff of Temple University Hospital COVID-19 Team —  are (L-R): Brian Gardner, BSN, RN, (Nurse Manager, Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit); Amy Goldberg, MD, (Chair, Surgery); Claire Raab, MD (Senior VP, Chief Clinical Officer); Michele Jones,  BSN, RN, (Associate VP, Nursing); Gerard Criner, MD, (Chair, Thoracic Medicine & Surgery); Rachel Rubin, MD (Chief, Hospital Medicine); and Michael DeAngelis, MD (Vice Chair, Emergency Medicine). Photo by Dan Burke.

Temple University Hospital COVID-19 Team Temple University Hospital

During the initial phase of the pandemic in Philadelphia, Temple Hospital admitted more COVID-19 patients than any other regional hospital, serving the city’s poorest, most vulnerable citizens. They worked with the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) and federal, state, and city agencies to create a COVID response plan across five clinical facilities, three employed physician groups, air/ground transport teams, and all care access and transition points. Some of their efforts included addressing surveillance, prevention, containment, and treatment, with tactics communicated to each constituency (e.g., community, staff, and visitors). With early supply chain intervention, they obtained adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), reagents, and lab equipment, and they held daily incident command center meetings. The team converted one multipurpose hospital building into a COVID isolation hospital with 210 ICU flex beds; established COVID-specific onsite radiology, OR, dialysis, and ECMO services; and established testing sites across three campuses. A 24/7 COVID telephone hotline they established received more than 65,000 calls, and they created an iPhone app to identify/track employee symptoms.

The team was also extremely active in communicating with the public and media about COVID-19 through their website, video conferences with community leaders, education starring rapper Jay-Z, and other outreach efforts. The hospital participated in 32 COVID treatment trials and was the only site in Pennsylvania to enroll patients in a leading vaccine trial for Johnson & Johnson. They also collaborated with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to assist 195 nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities in Southeastern Pennsylvania with COVID control education, PPE use, and cohorting. Notably, they published important research on the virus, including criteria to predict cytokine storm (Annals of Rheumatic Diseases) and evidence that COVID-19 disrupts the blood brain barrier (Neurobiology of Disease). The list of their accomplishments is extensive, and all this while continuing to care for their patients, in the hospital and by investing in telehealth technology with a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) grant. They report that despite the pandemic, their overall mortality improved 2% (to 0.86) from FY19 to FY20.


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