NYU Langone’s Katherine Hochman, MD, director of hospital medicine, has a gift for developing and refining systems. Back in 2004, she became NYU Medical Center’s first hospitalist—a physician managing the overall care and treatment of hospitalized patients. At that time, nurses, doctors, care managers, physical therapists, and social workers tended to work in silos, she notes, each group “doing its own thing” when it came to conducting daily rounds.
Communication among groups was often fragmented, leading to waste, such as unnecessary lab tests. So Dr. Hochman and her colleagues devised a solution: all members of the care team meet daily as a group and discuss every patient and their status and care plan. “By the time we leave the huddle,” says Dr. Hochman, “we’re on the same page.”
In late March 2020, Dr. Hochman once again put her talents to work, devising a program to enable communication between hospital staff and the families and other loved ones of patients with COVID-19. At that point, doctors and nurses on the COVID-19 wards were overwhelmed, with little or no time to communicate with families. As hospital visits had been discontinued, families were desperate for information about their loved ones.
While quarantined at home with her own case of COVID-19, Dr. Hochman devised a program—Family Connect—in which the family of each patient with COVID-19 at an NYU Langone hospital received a daily call about their care. Dr. Hochman paired doctors who were not providing direct COVID-19 care with NYU Grossman School of Medicine students. In addition to receiving remote training in reading medical records, each two-person team also called into rounds each day to hear the latest information about each patient. They then called families and loved ones.
“It was really heartwarming to see the waves of people come and sign up for this program,” says Dr. Hochman in this episode of Vital Signs. “At the end of the day I wasn't surprised, because this is NYU Langone. That’s what we do.”