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OM in the News: Why New Yorkers Are Dying

June 15, 2020

NYC hospitals hard hit by coronavirus

The Covid-19 virus has hit N.Y. harder than any other state, cutting through its dense urban neighborhoods and devastating the economy. The state’s death toll has accounted for 7% of the world’s deaths and 27% of American deaths.

In the first few days of March, Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio assured New Yorkers things were under control. On March 2, de Blasio tweeted that people should go see a movie. Only after the disease had gripped the city’s low-income neighborhoods in early March did the two leaders mobilize hospitals to create more beds and ICUs. The hasty expansion that ensued produced mistakes that worsened the crisis, according to an extensive analysis by The Wall Street Journal (June 12, 2020).

As you might suspect, this an OM issue: virtually everything that went wrong centers about an OM decision gone bad. Here are the missteps identified by 90 front-line doctors, hospital administrators and government officials that the Journal interviewed:

• Improper patient transfers. Some patients were too sick to have been transferred between hospitals and arrived in worse condition than when they left, sometimes without names and treatment information . Squabbling between Cuomo and de Blasio contributed to an uncoordinated effort. (Ch.2 OM Strategy)

• Insufficient isolation protocols. Hospitals often mixed infected patients with the uninfected early on, and the virus spread to non-Covid-19 units. (Ch.6 Managing Quality)

• Inadequate staff planning. Hospitals added hundreds of intensive-care beds, but not always enough trained staff, leading to improper treatments and overlooked patients dying alone. (Supp. 7 Capacity Planning)

• Mixed messages. State, city government and hospital officials kept shifting guidelines about when exposed and ill front-line workers should return to work. (Ch. 15 Scheduling)

• Overreliance on government sources for key equipment. Hospitals turned to the state and federal government for hundreds of ventilators, but many were faulty or inadequate. (Ch. 11 Supply Chain Management)

• Procurement-planning gaps. While leaders focused attention on procuring ventilators, hospitals didn’t always provide for adequate supplies of critical resources including oxygen, vital-signs monitors, and dialysis machines. (Ch. 4 Forecasting)

• Incomplete staff-protection policies. Many hospitals provided staff with insufficient protective equipment and testing. (Ch. 10 Human Resource Strategy)

Classroom discussion questions:

  1. Review each of the 10 OM decisions in Table 1.2 on p. 8 in your Heizer/Render/Munson text. How does each apply to an aspect of the pandemic?
  2. How can effective OM mitigate the SCM issues?
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