As part of preparation for a potential surge in patients due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Fayette County Memorial Hospital (FCMH) recently put a tent up outside the emergency room entrance.
According to Whitney Gentry, leader of business development for FCMH, “the tent is planned to be used as additional space for testing and triage of patients.”
Gentry explained by email that experts are estimating that an increase in the number of patients requiring hospitalization will occur after April 17.
“We assume that to mean the number of emergency room visits will increase,” wrote Gentry. “The tent can serve as a triage area for those patients. Also, if more tests become available, we may have the opportunity to utilize the tent as a swabbing station for COVID-19. It could also be used for patients experiencing respiratory distress that can be improved with the help of a breathing treatment. Doing that outside, in the tent, releases the air outside and eliminates the vaporized air from lingering inside a room and infecting others who might breathe it in.”
The addition of the tent is not the only way FCMH is preparing as a precaution.
“FCMH is working closely with Fayette County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) and Fayette County Public Health as part of a county-wide approach to staffing, safety and medical supplies,” wrote Gentry. “We are closely monitoring and adjusting our operations to make sure we are following the requirements around testing and PPE (personal protective equipment) usage as directed by ODH (Ohio Department of Health).”
One action that current staffing plans include is reaching out to area healthcare clinics to see if there are personnel that could assist FCMH during a surge if it were to occur locally.
Also to assist staff — on Thursday, the Fayette County Family YMCA agreed to serve as a place of rest and revitalization. This agreement was in anticipation of extended working hours. According to Gentry, FCMH is “in early conversations” with the YMCA for setting up sleeping arrangements and use of the showers for healthcare workers.
Supplies are another point of focus to help prepare for a potential surge of patients. Although various supplies are being ordered as they are found, many of those items are now on back-order.
“Frontline workers and others have received an N95 mask and have gone through the fit-test to ensure proper fit and function. Orders of oxygen and linens have been doubled now in anticipation of increased demand in the future. We have a supply of emergency cots that we can use as additional beds as our inpatient number increases, and we are mapping out the logistics of that,” wrote Gentry.
Just in case they are needed, EMA has an additional 60 cots available for use that are being stored in easy access to FCMH. To help with mask sterilization, FCMH recently signed an agreement with Battelle — the same Battelle that has recently been discussed by Governor Mike DeWine, according to Gentry.
The medical supplies currently on-hand are partially being preserved following the orders from ODH to postpone all non-essential, elective procedures.
“We appreciate the many businesses and individuals who have brought donations of medical supplies and homemade masks,” wrote Gentry. “Our goal is to take a team approach in dealing with the surge.”
This team approach may also include identifying one hospital to serve as a landing point for COVID-19 patients while other facilities take in the non-COVI-19 related cases, focusing on triage.
FCMH is in regular conversations with regional partners for a crisis response plan per the direction of DeWine — the hospital is coordinating efforts with Adena Health System, Holzer Medical Center, Southern Ohio Medical Center and King’s Daughters to have a regional surge plan.
FCMH providers have implemented telehealth visits for patients in Medical & Surgical Associates to ensure that patients can get necessary refills on prescriptions and maintain regular wellness visits. FCMH partners at Adena Health System have added an Orthopedic Injury Walk-In Clinic inside their Bone & Joint office in Medical Arts Building 1, which is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“Taking care of patients who need non-COVID related care is still important to us and is something on which we continue to focus,” wrote Gentry. “We communicate regularly and are prepared to adapt as needed.”
Information in this article came from FCMH Foundation Director Whitney Gentry.
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JennMWoods.