State Successes: Oregon's Collaborative Effort to Enhance Pediatric Surge Capacity

  • Published March 28, 2024

In 2022, an influx of children with respiratory viruses overwhelming hospitals made headlines. In anticipation of the fall/winter 2023-24 pediatric surge, a team from Oregon EMSC spearheaded the formation of the Pediatric Surge Capacity Workgroup. The group aimed to strengthen pediatric surge capabilities across all nine Oregon hospitals with inpatient pediatric acute care services.

The team was led by Rachel Ford, Oregon EMSC Program Manager, and Carl Eriksson, MD, MPH, Oregon EMSC Advisory Committee Pediatric Emergency Preparedness representative. Their primary focus was helping the nine hospitals prepare for a surge using the EMSC Innovation & Improvement Center’s Disaster Checklist: “Checklist of Essential Pediatric Domains and Consideration for Every Hospital's Disaster Policies.”

The checklist covers 11 categories, including one category specific to pediatric surge capacity. Within each category, the checklist outlines foundation, intermediate, and advanced levels of recommended activities.

To gauge the preparedness levels and requirements of these hospitals, the team designed a survey focusing on the foundational and intermediate aspects of the surge capacity category.

“We engaged hospital representatives in discussions aimed at enhancing capability and capacity,” says Ford. “Most importantly, we identified essential support and resources while fostering the exchange of protocols, policies, and guidance among participating hospitals. The collaborative effort resulted in a SharePoint page repository of documents accessible to the workgroup.”

A subsequent workgroup meeting delved into resource-sharing, the utilization of neonatal intensive care units in respiratory virus surge plans and pediatric transport strategies. Further augmenting preparedness, the Oregon EMSC’s Pediatric Readiness Program organized two educational sessions open to all hospitals statewide. These sessions covered the topics of pediatric sedation for intubated patients as well as pediatric and neonatal respiratory distress assessment and management. You can view session materials here.

As the workgroup drew to a close, Ford and Eriksson extended personalized support to individual hospital teams. They provided information on pediatric transport and the Oregon Medical Coordination Center, along with a set of four guiding questions:

  • Which protocols or policies have you reviewed, updated, and/or instituted as part of this workgroup?
  • Which additional protocols or policies do you plan to review, update, and/or institute in preparation for the respiratory virus season?
  • In what pediatric surge capacity areas do you need additional support, discussion and/or materials?
  • Which other materials would you like posted on the Pediatric Surge Capacity Workgroup SharePoint site?

“Through this collaborative endeavor, Oregon hospitals fortified their pediatric surge readiness, laying a robust foundation to address future challenges effectively,” says Eriksson.

Learn more about the work of EMSC’s State Partnership Programs here.