to main content Paula Vallejo | The Joint Commission
Paula Vallejo

Paula Vallejo

Corporate Quality Director, Vithas
International Surveyor, Joint Commission International


Paula Vallejo shares how a strong risk and infection control management program helped prepare her organization for the pandemic we’re currently facing.

Foresight and emergency planning pay off


“Our fight against COVID-19 began before December 2019. Just as it wasn't raining when Noah started building the ark, Vithas began preparing to respond to a possible pandemic before the fateful COVID-19 outbreak. It is difficult to identify day zero of the preparation process, but it is undoubtedly linked to the decision to place patient safety and quality as part of the company strategy.


“Planning for any emergency allows you to move faster, control stress for professionals through training, and ultimately help prevent mistakes. To say that we were fully prepared for COVID-19 would be audacious, and I doubt that any organization was prepared for something so tremendous. But having implemented a system based on risk prevention, which included a plan to respond to pandemics, has undoubtedly helped us respond more quickly and efficiently. Today, companies are focused on showing that they are ‘COVID free’, thus highlighting their reaction to this pandemic. I think this approach falls short, because this year our enemy is COVID-19, but next year the virus may have another name. It may even be that the enemy does not present itself in the form of a virus, but in the form of fire, natural catastrophe, cyber-attack or terrorism. That is why we want to be safe and prepared to handle the unexpected, in whatever form it may come.”


“There is pending applause that is not directed to the effort made after the coronavirus outbreak, but at what was done before: to managers who bet on investing in building an ark when it was sunny; to medical, nursing and quality directors who went the extra mile to focus on what's important, and trained their teams to know how to react to situations that might never arise.”