Table 1

Timeline of events and actions during and in the aftermath of the hospital crisis with the Middle East respiratory coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak in the summer of 2015

10–18 August 2015Crisis is mounting
  • Cases of MERS-CoV increase in an alarming rate.

18 August 2015Closing the hospitalHospital closure.
  • Closure of the hospital services except chemotherapy and anticoagulation clinics, haemodialysis unit and intensive care units.

  • Transfer of non-MERS-CoV patients to other hospitals.

  • Mobilising medical and nursing teams to manage patients in other hospitals.

Creation of a ‘crisis management team’.
  • This team functioned as a Command Centre chaired by the medical director to coordinate the overall response to the emergency.

Consultation with external organisations.
  • Connecting with local and international healthcare organisations with experience in crisis management and transformation.

Internal communication plan.
  • Establishment of an internal communication plan to be implemented throughout the phases of the crisis.

  • This included using weekly and as-needed email bulletins, posters, an online portal and frequent site visits by senior management.

External communication plan.
  • Establishment of an external communication plan to be implemented throughout the phases of the crisis.

  • This plan emphasised a transparent and constructive account of the actions taken.

  • The plan included communication with relevant public healthcare authorities.

Communication plan with the media and the public.
  • Media updates.

  • Establishment of a call centre for patients.

Building confidence.
  • Thanking the staff.

  • Seeking out for staff support.

  • Gathering feedback from staff and patients.

Starting 29 September 2015Phase 2: crisis resolutionReopening the hospital.
  • Reopening of outpatient clinics on 29 September 2015.

  • Reopening of inpatient wards on 4 October 2015.

Establishing a transformation plan.
  • Creating urgency for transformation.

  • Engaging the middle management.

  • Overcoming resistance to change.

  • No time to relax.