ED Tents for Potential COVID-19 Patient Overflow

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Tents were recently set up outside the Emergency Departments at Bayhealth Hospitals, Kent and Sussex Campuses. This was done in an effort to help better prepare for a possible surge of patients due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and keep those patients seeking emergency care for other illnesses and injuries separated and safe. According to Medical Director of Emergency Services Kelly Abbrescia, DO, these tents will be used as overflow ED areas for COVID-19 patients and those suspected of having it based on symptoms. They are being constructed to be an extension of the ED — temperature controlled spaces equipped with heating, air-conditioning, electricity and IT access. The tents will have patient stations, desks and their own waiting areas, and there will be portable restrooms outside the tents.

Dr. Abbrescia said that at the Kent Campus, plans were already carried out more than three weeks ago to divide the existing ED space, including the waiting room. In order to keep all patients safe, there are separate areas in the ED for patients with symptoms of COVID-19 and for those experiencing other medical issues. A pod inside the ED has been designated specifically for COVID-19 patients needing an IV and more intense care. There is a seven-bed area within the converted ED waiting room for those considered lower-risk COVID-19 patients not needing critical care. It’s projected that if those beds become full, the 26 patient stations in the tent will be used to treat other COVID-19 patients in similar condition. The division of the waiting area and other protocols, such as using disposable curtains that are changed between each patient, have been put in place for the safety of all patients and staff.

“We are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst,” said Dr. Abbrescia. “Bayhealth’s Administration and Incident Command have been fantastic throughout the process—very realistic about the potential situations we will face and committed to all the necessary preparations and precautions. They’ve been incredibly organized and supportive and we’re grateful for that.”

The EDs at Bayhealth, Kent and Sussex Campuses and Bayhealth Emergency Center, Smyrna are still operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to handle all non-COVID-19 related emergencies and urgent care as they usually do. Community members who are not in need of urgent care but are concerned about COVID-19 symptoms they may be experiencing should call Bayhealth’s Coronavirus Management Team (CMT) hotline at 302-310-8477. This is staffed by physicians, nurses and advanced practice providers who are pre-screening callers and refer those who meet the criteria to a drive-thru location for COVID-19 testing. Visit Bayhealth.org/COVID-19 for the latest information. As always, if you are experiencing a severe or life-threatening situation, call 911.

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