OBJECTIVE: Identify operational lessons to support hospital and health system preparedness and response for sea-sonal and pandemic influenza based on firsthand experiences from the 2017-2018 influenza season. DESIGN: We conducted semistructured, retrospective interviews with New York City Health+Hospitals (NYCH+H) personnel to gather firsthand experiences from the 2017-2018 influenza season and evaluated stress data across four operational domains reported by NYCH+H hospitals during the 2017-2018 influenza season. SETTING: Frontline hospitals in the NYCH+H health system during and after the 2017-2018 influenza season. PARTICIPANTS: Interviews conducted with personnel from 5 NYCH+H frontline hospitals. Operational stress data re-ported by 11 NYCH+H hospitals during the 2017-2018 influenza season. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Operational challenges and lessons from frontline hospitals responding to severe sea-sonal influenza. RESULTS: Operational stresses during the 2017-2018 influenza season varied over the influenza season, between facilities, and across operational domains. Patient surge and staff absenteeism pushed some facilities to their limits, and supply shortages highlighted shortcomings in existing procurement systems. Resources tied to pandemic influ-enza were unavailable without a pandemic declaration. CONCLUSION: Seasonal influenza poses dynamic operational stresses across health systems and cities, potentially causing major impacts outside of declared pandemics. Lessons from NYCH+H can help other hospitals and health systems anticipate operational challenges, but novel solutions are needed to mitigate effects of patient surge and per-sonnel and supply shortages during severe influenza seasons and pandemics. Improved data collection can help health systems better understand operational stresses and challenges across their facilities.
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