When March 2020 came along, we were preparing to survive a pandemic that was looming over our shoulders and our health care system. When our tertiary care center started to get an influx of COVID-19 patients, we quickly realized our hospital medicine division needed more support and collaboration, especially during the initial stages when guidelines and care pathways were still evolving. We had to maintain and abide by the national social distancing guidelines. This led our division to introduce a daily noon huddle via Webex, conducted by our division director.
Our initial goal of the daily noon huddle was to bring our group together to discuss daily challenges and workflow and keep current on guidelines pertaining to COVID-19. Soon, we realized this was a tool to promote hospitalist well-being and camaraderie in our division during this pandemic.
For the first 15 minutes of the daily huddle, we would have an update on suspected and confirmed COVID cases on the floor, the latest testing and therapeutics available at our institution, and protocols and care pathways. This helped our group to make real-time changes. For example, one of the interventions that we were able to facilitate from our huddle within a week was the need for discharge instructions, especially in languages like Spanish and Polish.
These instructions helped tremendously with patient education at discharge. The next 15 minutes were an open forum to discuss any concerns and also encourage discussion by hospitalists about daily workflow.
The last 15 to 20 minutes were reserved for a social time slot. Some colleagues would have lunch during this time. We had the opportunity to celebrate birthdays and baby showers for two of our colleagues, as well as an administrative day for our program coordinator. This effort resonated with our division, especially for the clinicians on the COVID service.
After about two months of daily noon huddles, we conducted an anonymous survey for the division of hospital medicine with eight different questions, which asked the hospitalists to rank their experience from zero to 10. When asked if they felt the daily huddles promoted camaraderie in our division during a pandemic, more than half of the recipients replied with a 10.
A cross-sectional survey of 1,257 physicians and nurses taking care of COVID-19 patients in China published by JAMA Network Open on March 23 found high rates of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. More than 70% of respondents reported psychological distress. Protecting health care workers is an essential component of public health measures for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. The regular daily huddle with our hospitalist team helped us stay connected and focused and kept our physicians informed and supportive of each other. Most important, it created a greater sense of camaraderie among our group.