USA Health University Hospital’s Surge Plan Gets National Recognition

USA Health University Hospital’s Surge Plan Gets National Recognition

MOBILE, Ala. (9/23/20) -- In an effort to continue to provide essential services to the region, a USA Health task force analyzed processes and improved patient flow at University Hospital, increasing the hospital’s capacity significantly from the previous year.

USA Health leaders shared results from the effort at a national online conference made up of participants from the nation’s largest academic medical centers, community hospitals, pediatric facilities and non-acute care providers. The conference was hosted by Vizient Inc.

Michael Chang, M.D., chief medical officer for USA Health, said that being one of 22 healthcare organizations chosen to give a live presentation shows that the project is at the forefront on the national level. "The fact that we were able to identify challenges, create a tactical plan to address them and then execute on the plan indicates that we are a learning healthcare system that can change rapidly to meet the patients’ needs,” Chang said.

A multidisciplinary task force at USA Health University Hospital identified a lack of systematic processes and data, and created a new surge plan. The plan put into effect new training, such as pocket cards for employees, and new practices, such as around-the-clock checklists for supervisors. A Patient Throughput Committee, meanwhile, monitored patient flow data to gauge success.

As a result of the new efforts, the hospital was able to discharge and admit patients in a more streamlined manner, which increased capacity without adding more beds. Between March 2019 and March 2020, University Hospital reduced by 72 percent the time during which it was unable to admit new patients due to overcrowding.

The increased capacity enabled more patients to receive the specialized care available at the region’s only academic health system. Emergency department admissions increased by 29 percent, and overall hospital admissions increased by 15 percent during the same period.

"The ability to manage capacity in the new USA Health Transfer Center, which opened this past year with a systematic format through the surge plan has led to a 51 percent increase in referral acceptances,” said Sheri Salas, director of nursing for University Hospital. "This makes University Hospital more accessible to the community and other facilities in need of our services.”

Lisa Mestas, chief nursing officer and associate administrator for USA Health, praised the collaboration among leaders and staff that resulted in improved flow and wider access to the hospital’s essential services. "We are very proud of this work, and we continue to work toward improving our processes even further,” she said.

University Hospital is the region’s only Level 1 trauma center providing specialized care in trauma, burn, stroke, cardiovascular disease and sickle cell disease. It serves as a major referral hospital for southwest Alabama, southeast Mississippi and portions of northwest Florida.


For more information or a high-resolution photo, contact Carol McPhail, USA Health Marketing and Communications, at


Cutline: Employees at the USA Health Transfer Center track the flow of patients at USA Health University Hospital, the region’s only Level 1 trauma center, in Mobile, Ala., on Feb. 19, 2020.

More Questions?

Didn't find what you are looking for? Contact us for more information.