State Successes: Creating Connection through Resources

  • Published August 2, 2023

This month, we sat down with Colorado EMSC Program Manager Nicolena Mitchell, EMTP, and talked about a creative solution in response to the respiratory surge last fall. While Colorado’s strategy relates to a specific crisis, it offers useful lessons that apply to day-to-day improvement efforts.

What made you think of creating this resource for your state?

“You may want to forget, but I bet everyone remembers the RSV surge of fall 2022, and how it overwhelmed nearly every state's capacity and resources in a very short time. Colorado was no different, and with a network of children's hospitals throughout the state, all being overwhelmed by the numbers, it was clear this problem needed all hands on deck.

Enter the call to action: the Colorado Children’s hospital network put out a call for help to the state and health care centers (HCC) that there was an immediate need for regionalized resources on the respiratory surge. The network quickly amassed a statewide workgroup to tackle the problem. The workgroup was not only trying to grasp the scope of the problem, but also needed to collate resources for hospitals and EMS agencies to utilize quickly.

What I realized through these meetings was that hospitals needed to be able to easily access resources that would help them prepare to be able to treat these pediatric patients and also keep them in place, reserving interfacility transfers for the most critical of these cases. Knowing that the EMSC Program was not operationally able to assist in the surge (or deployable in terms of manpower) , I put together a resource page on respiratory emergencies, so that hospital and prehospital professionals alike could easily access the information they’d need, all in one place! Admittedly, the webpage wasn’t exactly pretty at first, but it was functional, which was the important part and saw an increase in traffic by a whopping 1500% in the first week!”

What were the barriers (if any) to launching this resource page?

“Luckily, we had the capacity to launch the website (both in ability and time available). Had we tried to do this in my first months as a program manager, it most likely would not have happened the way it did. I was 11 months in and well-versed in what resources were available through Children's Hospital Colorado, my fellow State Partnership Program managers, and the EIIC.”

How has this resource page impacted your state and your EMSC program?

“This program gave us an entry point to interacting with hospitals, HCC coordinators, educators and EMS agencies that we had not before. I believe that because it was a single source for information, it was shared widely. While I routinely meet people who have never heard of EMSC before, more and more I meet people who know us from the respiratory page.”

Do you have long term or additional goals for this tool?

“We receive regular requests throughout the year for a variety of resources. We continue our work to consolidate resources and make them user-friendly and searchable on our website. Ultimately, I would like to create a just-in-time training area of our website that would be similar to our peds respiratory page that would pertain to the hot topic of the moment - emerging epidemics or pandemics, seasonal issues like summer trauma (ATV, horse, and bike accidents, etc.), winter respiratory season, and emergency trends like button batteries, water beads, etc.”

What did the RSV surge and your work to respond to it make you aware of as a new program manager?

“Being a program manager can be overwhelming whether you are new or have been at this for a while. Big picture goals are important, but small actionable steps get the work done. It can be challenging to not see bigger changes take place, but it is the small, attainable actions that we can maintain that make a difference in the short and long run.

  • Go to meetings. Find out what local, regional and statewide meetings for hospital and EMS take place and ask to be an agenda item.
  • Meet people. Know what resources you have to share (no matter how small or few - don't forget that all of the EIIC resources are yours to share!) and promote them whenever you can. A generic slide deck with program information is a huge timesaver. Use it as your template and update it for the group that you are meeting with. Save your slide decks - it's a great resource to yourself, but also as an information sharing tool. Ask around about email listservs - often with one email you can hit hundreds to thousands of recipients. Being on the listserv is also a way to know what is going on in that community and what they need.
  • Meet with your fellow State Partnership Program managers - The NASEMSO annual meeting is great, but don't forget you have access to other program managers who are all trying to do the same work. Sometimes a one-hour Zoom session with a small group of program managers to talk things out can do wonders, not only for troubleshooting and issues, but for your mental health, too! This is a big job, with a lot of requirements. Sometimes hearing that you are not alone in your challenges, or being able to help another program manager, can really lift some weight off of yourself.”

Any last pieces of advice for program managers trying to create similar resources?

“Even if you don’t have the ability to manage and edit the webpage in your state, you can create helpful resources. You can create a simple spreadsheet of resources that can be easily distributed to local hospital and EMS organizations. Knowing and understanding what dissemination tools you have available is key!”

Learn more about EMSC Colorado through their website. To learn more about the State Partnership Programs, visit the EIIC webpage.

If you are a State Partnership Program team and would like to share the work going on in your state/territory/region, reach out to your EIIC staff support.