New leadership meets new challenges at Akron Children’s Hospital

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New leadership meets new challenges at Akron Children’s Hospital

par Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief | March 19, 2021
From the March 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Patient receives occupational therapy at Akron Children's Hospital (photo taken before pandemic).
HCB News: How is the hospital experiencing the pandemic? What role is the hospital playing?
PO: Just as the pandemic situation has been fluid this past year, Akron Children’s has adjusted to meet the needs of our patients. Like all area hospitals, we participate in the emergency response protocols and have been running our emergency command center regularly to deal with the challenges of the pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve worked with area hospitals to ensure access to healthcare, even if that means an influx of COVID-19 patients. We’ve adjusted our staffing and retrained our staff to care for adult patients if need be. By doing so, we can help partner hospitals handle overcapacity issues related to COVID-19.

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While COVID-19 primarily affects adults, it also impacts children, and we’re starting to see the effects on their emotional and mental health. Akron Children’s will continue to serve as the leader for healthcare for children and young adults as we continue to treat COVID-19 and whatever variants and side effects may arise.

One of the staircases at the hospital features paintings by local high school students.
HCB News: Do you see healthcare delivery permanently changing in any fundamental ways due to the pandemic?
PO: Yes, in three main areas. The pandemic has accelerated the use of telehealth services and that has improved access. Secondly, we have learned a lot about the disease and how to combat it, and that will lead to further innovations to fight other diseases (for example, flu incidence is significantly down this year due to mask wearing and increased hand hygiene). The public’s awareness of the role they play in disease transmission has been a positive outcome of the pandemic. Finally, this past year has shown us where we must collaborate, particularly with community leaders and legislators, on where to improve our response to such public health crises.

Akron Children's designs all of its spaces through the eyes of a child, including the entry to its Boardman campus.
HCB News: From a wide-angle perspective, healthcare continues to push away from fee-for-service and toward value-based care. Are you seeing those efforts manifest in any specific ways?
PO: Yes, as healthcare providers take on more risk for payments in value-based care, they are using advancements in data to better understand their patients’ needs, as well as factors in their social setting (social determinants of health), in order to provide the appropriate resources in a timelier manner. Care coordination, disease prevention programs and telehealth are examples of efforts to improve health management for patients to keep them healthy; and when they need services, get them to the appropriate venue. The intent is to create more value for the care the patient is receiving.
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