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Coronavirus Update and Health System Preparations - 3/25

Coronavirus Update and Health System Preparations - 3/25
Confirmed Cases
To keep our community informed during the COVID-19 outbreak, DCH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robin Wilson and Dr. Blake Lovely, emergency room physician and regional medical director for emergency department services at DCH, participated in a virtual town hall with Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox today, March 25. Here is some of the information they shared.The remote screening service will be closed on Friday, March 20, due to a forecast of thunderstorms in the morning and potential heavy wind and hail in the afternoon. In addition, as announced yesterday, we will not be conducting screenings on the weekends. The next time the service will be available will be Monday, March 23, starting at 8 a.m., as long as there is no rain or heavy winds.

To protect patient privacy, we have established a minimum threshold of five for reporting numbers of inpatients with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. At this time we have inpatients with COVID-19 being treated, but there are five or less.

As of this morning:

  • Eight were positive for COVID-19 including tests from the ED, triage tent and inpatient. These individuals are not necessarily in the hospital
  • 405 tested negative

DCH is prepared to handle coronavirus patients who may need ventilators.

We just received 22 new Hamilton ventilators, including one for MRI and one for patient transport. These were part of a plan that began before the COVID-19 outbreak.

The new ventilators are being assembled on-site now. Employee training starts early next week, followed by the ventilators’ active use by late next week or early the following week.

The Hamilton ventilators use the same supplies as our current ventilators, and they automatically adjust to the patient’s airflow needs, enabling a faster recovery.

DCH has 48 existing ventilators. We also have 10 rental units on hand and ready to use.

That brings the total number of ventilators between Northport Medical Center and DCH Regional Medical Center to 80.

Our average daily ventilator use is between 16 to 20 patients. Currently we have 25 patients on ventilators, so we are on the high end of our average but well within our capacity.

Preparing for a Surge
We have taken several steps to prepare for a potential surge in patients.

DCH RMC has at least 20 negative pressure rooms (their air is separated from the main circulation) for patients who may need to be on airborne precautions.

We have been working on two initiatives to expand that capacity.

  • First, we are moving as many patients as possible who have symptoms and are waiting on test results to one area. The nurses in these areas receive additional training on protocols to ensure patient and employee safety.

  • Second, we have been modifying an area so that an entire unit of 14 rooms will be negative pressure in case additional rooms are needed. This will serve as our primary overflow area for the more critically ill.

Other units are being looked at for similar efforts.

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