Countries such as The United States of America, Australia, Brazil, Israel, England, Germany, France and many other countries, where the virus is arriving swiftly, look to Italy today to learn from its emergency response. In recent weeks, Humanitas’ doctors, nurses, managers and researchers have been called by colleagues from other major Italian and foreign hospitals to share their experience and network. Many requests for information regarding, for example, the technological equipment needed to face the epidemic, the division of patient flows, the creation of dedicated areas for virus-positive patients, the management of personal protective equipment and lung ventilators in relation to an increase in beds in Intensive Care. Humanitas hospital is also in liaison with the University of Wuhan for an exchange of information and experiences.

“The transformation of Humanitas was carried out under great pressure, but because of the modular architecture of the hospital, it has been very quick – explains Michele Lagioia, Humanitas Health Director. We responded promptly to the requests of the authorities and the emergency network and converted the wards in record time, transforming the operating theatres into Intensive Care Units. We trained doctors and nurses on how to operate in the new wards and protect themselves and the patients. It was an unprecedented challenge, we had never managed infectious diseases before. Yet in less than a month, bringing each of our skills together, we have helped to design, create, and make our new clinical and nursing reality an everyday facility.”

The transformation of Humanitas

In just a few days, thanks to a task force of doctors, infectivologists, engineers, technicians, nurses, and managers, IRCCS Humanitas, a highly specialized hospital that did not have an infectivology department, was completely transformed to respond to the emergency in a timely manner and receive COVID-19 patients in complete safety for both patients and Humanitas professionals, as well as continuing to treat cancer and neurological patients as a point of reference for the Regional Oncology and Stroke Network.

At the moment, more than 250 patients affected by COVID-19, of whom more than 35 are in the Intensive Care Unit, are admitted to Humanitas from the territory and from other public and private hospitals in Lombardy. Seven wards dedicated to COVID-19 patients have been created, which differ from normal wards because a negative pressure ventilation system has been created. The Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Room have more than doubled their capacity and beds, the latter also thanks to the Civil Protection tents. The analysis laboratory has been equipped with new technologies to process the tests and give faster results. A large number of patients have now been discharged. Those who cannot return home for post-hospitalization quarantine are welcome to stay in a protected residence near the hospital.

Many people all with different skills have contributed to the design, creation and operation of the new clinical facility and care reality, which has evolved and changed day after day to meet the needs that have gradually emerged.

The teamwork has been complex, involving all the hospital’s professionals, including the staff who carefully managed the delicate aspects of communication with patients and their families, offering a support service using computers or tablets and psychological support to relatives over the phone, which has become a valuable means to provide daily information about loved ones.

Strengthening the international research network

“The sharing and exchange of data and hypotheses are a rule of scientific research, particularly in the biomedical field – says Alberto Mantovani, Scientific Director of Humanitas. This is even more valid today in the face of the global emergency we are experiencing. China, Holland, the United States of America and England are just some of the countries we have been in contact within recent days to share studies and reflections on the pandemic. We have also been inundated with messages of solidarity and closeness from colleagues around the world, a demonstration of a great network of mutual aid and collaboration”.

Saturday 28 March, European Intensive Therapies Marathon

On Saturday, March 28th the first international webinar on COVID-19, organized by the European Society of Intensive Care (ESICM), will be held via live streaming. Professor Maurizio Cecconi, Head of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care at Humanitas, is the elected President. It will be a 7-hour live marathon with the world’s leading ICU experts to share experiences and advice on Coronavirus and other pandemics. Here is the link to follow the live broadcast: