Name: Adam Mix
Place of Work: Spectrum Health
Job Title: Director of the Solid Organ Transplant Program and the Cardiac Surgery Program
1. What did a normal day in your job look like before the outbreak?
“I am the administrative director of the solid organ transplant program and the cardiac surgery program. In this role, I partnered with the surgical and medical director and was responsible for the non-clinical leadership of the programs. This includes things such as finances, staffing, regulation and compliance, but also pushing innovation through leading various projects. A big portion of my job is simply people leadership, but obviously with a healthcare slant. My normal day consisted of meetings, emails, working on proposals, and rounding with my team.”
2. How has the coronavirus affected your responsibilities, and are crucial transplant surgeries still continuing?
“My responsibilities have stayed the same, but are now being done in light of the current events. For example, staffing and people leadership is still a major responsibility but now includes redeployment of staff to different tasks, as well as ensuring staff are up to date on the current crisis and feeling safe. The transplant programs remain open and active, however at a greatly decreased volume. We are being much more selective when reviewing organ donors as the risk to the recipients right now is much higher. Organ recipients have their immune systems suppressed after receiving a transplant which leaves them at significant risk from many infections including COVID-19. Also, because people are mostly quarantined, the number of organ donors is decreased. For example, fewer people driving means fewer car accidents, and therefore fewer donors. It is a sad paradox that the recipient’s best day when they receive an organ is some other families’ worst day as they have tragically lost a loved one.”
3. What steps is Spectrum Health, and your department, taking to ensure the safety of your workers and patients?
“The hospital has very specific personal protective equipment requirements for all staff. Additionally, many processes have been put in place (distancing, work from home, visitor restrictions) that are designed to improve the safety of works. Many of these things are also designed to increase the safety of patients. Patient safety is paramount and very detailed plans and processes are in place to protect patients and to be prepared should the volume of COVD-19 patients increase. Currently, COVID-19 patients are sequestered in two locations with very strict personal protective equipment requirements. Spectrum Health has been in very close contact with hospitals in Detroit, and has learned many things from their experiences.”
4. What are your new policies in regards to family and friends who are looking to visit patients?
“The current visitor policy is very limited—pediatric patients can have one visitor with them. Patients having surgery can have someone at the hospital while they are in surgery up to hour one after surgery. Patients who are at the end of life can make special arrangements to have visitors. All other patients are not allowed to have visitors. This has been a heartbreaking outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic. In my area, because of the type of surgery being done, our patients tend to have long lengths of stay in the hospital and have previously been able to have family surrounding them, helping them, and encouraging them in their recovery. This loss has been significant. That it is being done to protect them, is a very hard truth for both the patient and their family.”
5. How has the outbreak affected your daily life outside of work?
“I continue to go into work most days, but am spending some mornings and afternoons doing meetings from home. The extra stress and challenges at work are definitely bleeding over into home life. Overall, I am a fairly introverted person, and so the lack of social interaction beyond my immediate family is not a major concern.”
6. Do you think that the outbreak is going to leave an impact on how the healthcare system—specifically your department—runs things in the future?
“I don’t think the healthcare system overall will ever be the same. This outbreak has pushed telemedicine and electronic visits forward faster than anyone could have predicted. Most departments are now performing most clinic visits via telemedicine to the patient’s mobile device. Likewise, many employees are now working at home using remote work applications. Both of these things and other changes made to accommodate the changing needs will most likely never return to the previous state. I also think there will be a long term fear around infectious diseases that will stick with the healthcare industry for many years.”