RML Specialty Hospital, which has opened two dedicated COVID-19 units in Hinsdale and Chicago since mid-April, is seeing very positive results to date from its focused, safe approach to weaning patients from ventilators. In just two months, the COVID teams at both locations have provided care to a total of 64 patients—all of whom were admitted to RML on ventilators. Of those, 22 have already been discharged while 40 patients remain in the care of the 105 members of the two COVID teams.
RML Specialty Hospital is one of the largest ventilator-weaning hospitals in the United States and is dedicated to providing “the right care at a critical time.” As the number of COVID patients began to increase dramatically at the end of March, RML leaders responded to requests from Chicago’s acute-care hospitals. They needed RML to take patients recovering from COVID who still required ventilators to support some or all of their breathing.
“There was never a question that we would do this, but the safety of our other patients and our staff was paramount,” said Jim Prister, Chief Executive Officer. “As a long-term acute care hospital, RML treats patients who are very ill and particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. We worked through literally hundreds of issues and created systems and processes scenarios to ensure everyone’s safety.”
The team’s detail-focused approach is yielding positive results: many patients are responding more quickly than anticipated to the team’s dedicated efforts to removing them from ventilator support. In addition, no patient or staff member at either RML location has contracted COVID-19 since the units opened.
“This is what we do,” said Glenn Podzimek, Director of Respiratory Therapy at RML Specialty Hospitals. “The respiratory therapists on the COVID unit are totally focused on the goal. We initiate the first step toward ventilator removal, we monitor, we assess, we get a little more aggressive if the patient is doing well, or we step back if the patient isn’t ready. Together with the entire COVID team, our job is to get them breathing on their own again.”
RML opened the units based on the strict plans developed by a COVID-19 Task Force. Before patients are considered for admission, they must have been in another hospital for at least 10 days and must be fever-free without the support of fever-reducing medications for at least 72 hours.
“With our experience in providing excellent patient care, the appropriate use of ventilators, and physical structures that allow for private rooms, RML Specialty Hospital is providing patients with safe, expert care on their road to recovery,” explained John Brofman, MD, Chief Medical Officer. “We are very pleased to see these kinds of positive results and we hope to publish preliminary data on our outcomes. The most important element of this success: teamwork. Everyone has stepped up to meet the needs of our patients. We still have a long way to go and many questions that must be answered through research, but we are very pleased with the progress to date.”