CLEVELAND — A Northeast Ohio health system is taking a page from NASA’s playbook to treat the global pandemic.

What You Need To Know

  • University Hospitals is utilizing a command center approach, similar to NASA mission control, to treat patients

  • They created their command center in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Mission control allows a centralized point for information sharing between multiple groups to help ensure successful missions/treatments

Outer space has been called the “final frontier,” but a new frontier is also back here at home — the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We very quickly realized that in order to manage this, we were going to need a centralized system that would allow folks to make quick decisions and be a collaboration point,” said University Hospitals Vice President of Operations and Logistics Sam Brown.

University Hospitals of Cleveland administrators set up a military-style command center with monitoring screens and communication channels in response to the outbreak.

“It’s to predict what may happen in order to get ahead of some of these things that are, frankly, very predictable in many cases, enabling folks with information in order to adjust accordingly” said Brown.

The concept of a command center is not a new one. NASA set up its first mission control for the Gemini IV in the 1960s. It’s a system that’s still in place today with intense training for all involved.

“That’s because the people in mission control are the last line of defense for the crew,” said Ginger Kerrick, NASA. “Space is a dangerous environment and the crew needs us to watch over them.”

Trust is an important factor in relationships between the crew on a space mission and the team on the ground, and it takes time to earn.

“When you go through that time together and you see day after day proof that this flight controller can identify a problem and reach a solution that protects the crew,” said Kerrick.

Sharing information is a key component the health system wants to replicate to help build trust and provide patients an understanding of their care. Steps they’re taking toward the goal of continuing to improve treatments.

“I think in a smart world we should be able to get ahead of these things and offer intervention that’s convenient and personalized to folks,” said Brown.

And keep improving process for future operations, with the potential to unite mission control members virtually.

“It is who people are and what people do, and you don’t need to have a building and seats and a headset to be able to do that,” said Kerrick.

Sharing tools to complete missions from anywhere on the planet, and out of this world.