Hospitals offer lessons for reopening amid the coronavirus

American hospitals have figured out how to avoid becoming sites of spread of the coronavirus, and lessons can be learned from them as lockdowns are lifted across the country, according to Atul Gawande.

In a May 13, 2020 New Yorker article, Gawande, professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, wrote that hospitals have been using strategies that are like “a drug cocktail.” The elements of the cocktail “are all familiar: hygiene measures, screening, distancing, and masks,” he wrote. “Each has flaws. Skip one, and the treatment won’t work. But, when taken together, and taken seriously, they shut down the virus.”

Gawande offered details about the strengths and limitations of the “four pillars” of the strategy to curb the coronavirus. And he said that while using them all “will not return us to normal life … they could get people out of their homes and moving again.”

He also discussed a fifth important element: culture. “It’s one thing to know what we should be doing; it’s another to do it, rigorously and thoroughly,” he wrote.

Gawande is a surgeon at Mass General Brigham, founder and chairman of Ariadne Labs, and outgoing CEO of the health care venture Haven.

Read the New Yorker article: Amid the Coronavirus Crisis, a Regimen for Reëntry