Upon arrival of the SUNY Downstate Medical Center team for their disaster relief mission in Port au Prince, Haiti, it was observed that obstacles to patient care were directly related to difficulty in locating supplies and medications in a timely manner. In addition, staffing schedules had not been correlated to patient flow patterns.
A survey was conducted at L'Hôpital de l'Université d'Etat d'Haïti (HUEH) in Port au Prince, Haiti by Emergency physicians and nurses from SUNY Downstate Medical Center. The following variables were obtained to assess existing resources: number and types of providers available, provider staffing schedules, medication/supply inventories and management systems. Basic ED operation and supply system flow maps were created.
The assessment revealed a large volume of patients presenting in the early morning. Night shifts were inconsistently staffed with ED physicians. Although medications and supplies were reported to be available on-site, they were not tracked, inventoried, or centrally managed. As a result, this increased time to treatment and practitioner fatigue. Process improvements included: (1) Institution of swing and night shifts accommodated peak patient volumes, decreased waiting times, provided care for critical patients during off-peak hours, and decreased physician fatigue. (2) Identification and labeling of existing medications/supplies facilitated more accurate management of inventories and decreased time to treatment and disposition.
Process improvement through systematic analysis led to better disaster resource utilization in this tent hospital.