Due to the national increase in patients with COVID-19, the workload of patient care across the Netherlands needed to be spread as effectively as possible. Not only for patients with COVID-19, but for all patients. The aim of the National Coordination Center for Patient Evacuation (LCPS) is to spread the workload and care capacities across hospitals. LCPS is being led by Bas Leerink and Bart ter Horst. The Dutch Army offers advice and support in the design, organization and operation. They are being strengthened by experts in the field of acute care, logistics, ICT, statistics and crisis management.
I interviewed Bas Leerink (partner healthcare at IG&H) and Bart ter Horst (director healthcare at IG&H) about their important roles in setting up and coordinating the National Coordination Centre for Patient Evacuation(LCPS)
First of all, how are you doing?
Actually, things are going pretty well. Although the pressure and responsibilities are very high, it feels good to be able to contribute to society. And to be honest we both don’t believe we would have been very suitable for working from home anyway.
How did you get involved?
Bas Leerink: I got a call from the Ministry of Health(VWS) saying they were looking for someone to set up the National Coordination Center for Patient Evacuation (LCPS), and they thought that I might be the one. Before I could even react, they continued with: “o and by the way, we are gathering today at 2 PM”. So I immediately called some of my colleagues ,including Bart, and we both drove to Rotterdam. Once arrived Ernst Kuiper (CEO Erasmus MC) welcomed us.
Soon enough we found out that we had to start from scratch, because there was literally nothing except a piece of paper on the wall, which was as a matter of fact, almost completely blank.
What can you tell us about the cooperation between the different parties that are involved?
We got a very important and complicated task, so each party that is involved brings some of their expertise to the table, which is extremely valuable. For example: the Dutch Army is very experienced when it comes to crisis operations like patient evacuation, so we really benefited from their knowledge. Within 2 days we evacuated the first patients. This wouldn’t have been possible without smart collaboration between all involved parties.
What is it that IG&H offers then?
Probably our sector knowledge and ‘getting things done’ mentality. Not to forget that our tagline is “Make strategy work” and that summarizes exactly what we are doing here. We are not only analyzing or making advices on paper, we are here in the field creating a working coordination center, of course in close collaboration with all other parties that are involved.
It has been three weeks since the set-up of LCPS, what has been achieved so far?
Within five days we made the system operational. Which means we were able to answer requests of hospitals, track patients and organize the whole evacuation process. Not only did we evacuate Intensive-care patients across hospitals in The Netherlands, but we also evacuated some to Germany. At the same time, we started distributing medical equipment as well. Meanwhile the team has grown to a group of approximately 60 people that are continuously trying to optimize processes and keep a smooth information provision among all involved parties.
Can you paint a picture of a typical day at LCPS?
For both of us the day starts around 7 AM, with getting our first call of the day while being in the car or on a bike. Not a single day is typical at the LCPS, but thanks to the Dutch Army we have a “battle rhythm”. So we kick every morning off with a commander’s update briefing (CUB). Followed by a commander’s intent in which Bas Leerink states the most important goal or topic of the day. Furthermore, important decisions are being made. Around twelve there is a consultation with all chairs of the ROAZ’s, that’s when we inform and ask about any updates in general regarding the patient evacuation. Around 2 PM we get an update about the forecasts, so we know what we should and can prepare for. Then there are a lot of phone calls to be made, up until around 4PM when the press conference preparation takes place. And at the end of the day there is another CUB in which we discuss the progress of the day.
The number of patients on the IC continues to drop, what is your take on that?
The average of patients on the IC in The Netherlands before COVID-19 were approximately 800. Now there are just under 1.300 patient with COVID-19. We have to watch out and not be too cheerful too soon, because immediately lowering measures can be very dangerous and lead to a resurgence of COVID-19. Also given the fact that the workload at the Intensive cares is still way too high, and has been for quite some time, we should be very careful about the sustainability of these scaled-up wards. So, despite the drop we are still working on automating processes to make them more efficient and less sensitive to errors and preparing ourselves to spread workload evenly and effectively across Dutch healthcare institutions.
Watch the episode about LCPS on EenVandaag