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Los Angeles Surge Hospital and Clinical Education, Serving the Common Good During COVID-19

COVID-19 has exacerbated the vulnerability of every individual, positioning CommonSpirit Health to serve our communities in innovative ways that we never had imagined.

Borne of a unique public-private partnership between the State of California, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Dignity Health, and Kaiser Permanente, the community of Los Angeles witnessed the rapid development of a critical COVID-19 surge hospital in April. The former site of St. Vincent’s Medical Center became the Los Angeles Surge Hospital (LASH) over the course of three short weeks. Leveraging the talents of Dignity Health clinical educators was essential in order to accomplish this feat.

“I’m so proud of our amazing team of educators who were able to orient nearly 300 staff members in a record amount of time. Most healthcare leaders and educators have experienced rapid training for emergency situations, but opening the Los Angeles Surge Hospital was like nothing any of us have ever seen before,” said Julie Sprengel, LASH CEO. “We not only created the hospital from scratch with necessary services, like lab, pharmacy, and imaging, but also attained equipment, which required staff competencies. Every aspect of the hospital was new. The leadership team was new, the staff was new, and the battle we were in was new to all of us. The education team learned right along with us. They owned it, developed it, and taught others in the process. This incredible feat was the reason LASH was able to open and care for those suffering from COVID-19 in our community. The team did it quickly and safely, while also providing relief for caregivers in local area hospitals.”

Volunteer clinical educators representing Dignity Health hospitals in Southern California and Sacramento were led by Amrit Kamboj DNP, RN, MSN/FNP-BC, DSD, Director of Education, Simulation, and Community Operations at California Hospital Medical Center. Educators screened all incoming LASH employees, ensured compliance with hospital orientation requirements, provided fit testing, reviewed PPE donning and doffing practices, and taught equipment-specific competency sessions for clinicians, including ventilator and IV pump function and point-of-care testing.

 “I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to the Southern California educators for stepping up on such short notice and assisting our region with this project. You are my ‘Heroes’. Each and every one of you made sure that the LASH employees understood how to safely work in COVID-19 positive environment,” reflects Kamboj, who serves as LASH Orientation and Education Leader. “This was not just any orientation, it showed your passion to make sure that our fellow healthcare workers will be safe when providing care for this fragile population. Thank you for your team work.”

Danyel Germain, DNP, RN CommonSpirit Health System Director of Clinical Education and Professional Development, said the clinical educators provide the education, training, and competency evaluation necessary for our employees to provide safe, high-quality care.

“It is easy to recognize the value of the clinical education team in serving the needs of the surge hospital and the Los Angeles community,” Germain said. “Clinical educators provide an invaluable connection between the employees’ clinical knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors, and the priorities and culture of the organization.”

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