It takes a great deal of communication, coordination, flexibility and teamwork to manage the many patients who come in, and out, of the hospital each day. Within MGH Interventional Radiology alone, staff handle up to 70 cases per day – and this number is expected to steadily grow.

This is why IR leadership designed a new role a few years ago, led by Christopher Rodrigues, technical supervisor in Interventional Radiology. The role – leading what Rodriguez calls the “air traffic control center” of the department – continues to be refined to match the almost daily changes involved in coordinating complex care.

“There are a lot of moving parts in our world related to prioritizing timely care. Our goal is to balance getting patients treated, well-cared for and discharged in a timely fashion by triaging as best we can to prevent anyone who can from going to the Emergency Department, or staying in the hospital longer than necessary,” Rodrigues says. “Our group does great work. It is a challenge that I love, and at the end of the day, we are here to take care of patients.”

One key component of the air traffic control structure is morning huddles for all staff. Every morning, role groups meet to discuss what lies ahead for the day. They analyze how the Emergency Department looks and in what ways they can best help, determine how to prioritize patients and discharges and how to fit new care requests into an already busy schedule, triage with nurse leaders, and discuss with MGH capacity leaders and residents to secure post-procedure patient beds or any other needed care.

“This is the most important discussion of our day,” says Rodrigues. “But, despite our best planning, more often than not some emergency will happen, and we’ll need to adjust to take care of that, as well as everything else that was already planned. It always makes for interesting days, but no matter what, we keep moving forward.”

This air traffic control system within Interventional Radiology has existed for about five years, but Rodrigues and the IR leadership team have worked hard to continue to improve its structure and to make care coordination run more smoothly. The work is truly a multidisciplinary effort, including nurses, physicians, residents, capacity leads, advanced practice providers and resource techs.

“We are all around these bright minds, and this work truly takes the efforts of each person and their skills,” says Rodrigues. “With all the stressors and emergencies that happen, people respect each other and advocate for their patients.”

This teamwork is especially key in ensuring a constant continuum of care, so nothing slips through, says Rodrigues. “I’m not here daily nor are others, and it is vital for hand-off to be smooth and uninterrupted, which is done by interfacing and communicating with all our teams daily.”

Rodrigues says he can’t speak more highly of his team. “We do what we do, and we get through.”