Role of hospital leadership in pandemic preparedness: experience at a tertiary hospital in Kenya during the COVID-19 pandemic

Lucy W. Mwangi, William MacHaria, Benjamin W. Wachira, Jemimah Kimeu, Boniface Mativa, Lukoye Atwoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Pandemic preparedness refers to being ready for, responding to and recovering from public health crises, and is integral for health security. Hospital leadership is a critical building block of an effective healthcare system, providing policy, accountability and stewardship in a health crisis. Objectives and methods: We aimed to describe the leadership and governance structures put in place at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, a private not-for-profit tertiary healthcare facility, following the COVID-19 pandemic. We reviewed over 200 hospital documents archived in the COVID-19 repository including those received from the Kenya Ministry of Health, emails, memos, bulletins, meeting minutes, protocols, brochures and flyers. We evaluated and described pandemic preparedness at the hospital under four main themes: (a) leadership, governance and incident management structures; (b) coordination and partnerships; (c) communication strategies; and (d) framework to resolve ethical dilemmas. Results: The hospital expeditiously established three emergency governance structures, namely a task force, an operations team and an implementation team, to direct and implement evidence-based preparedness strategies. Leveraging on partners, the hospital ensured that risk analyses and decisions made: (1) were based on evidence and in line with the national and global guidelines, (2) were supported by community leaders and (3) expedite financing for urgent hospital activities. Communication strategies were put in place to ensure harmonised COVID-19 messaging to the hospital staff, patients, visitors and the public to minimise misinformation or disinformation. An ethical framework was also established to build trust and transparency among the hospital leadership, staff and patients. Conclusion: The establishment of a hospital leadership structure is crucial for efficient and effective implementation of pandemic preparedness and response strategies which are evidence based, well resourced and ethical. The role of leadership discussed is applicable to healthcare facilities across low and middle-income countries to develop contextualised pandemic preparedness plans.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberleader-2023-000833
JournalBMJ Leader
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • healthcare planning
  • leadership assessment
  • public health

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