Sarah Bush Lincoln activated its internal disaster plan Thursday morning due to the continuing surge of patients seeking care.
SBL President and CEO Jerry Esker explained that it is fairly unusual to call the Internal Disaster Plan, but SBL wants to be in the best place possible to care for the large numbers of people who are very ill. “Hospitals throughout the State are experiencing large patient surges and open beds are becoming very limited. For that reason, transferring patients is not a practical option. We will do everything we can, and use all resources to ensure patients in this community receive the best care possible,” he said.
In the plan, SBL is deploying the MABAS tent (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System) just outside the Emergency Department to care for those without COVID-19 and who are less ill. The tent was initially erected in March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. The air conditioned tent has enough room to care for six patients. The Emergency Department typically sees about 80 to 100 patients daily, but in the last few weeks, has treated upward of 130 people a day.
In an effort to free up beds sooner, if patients are appropriate for this, they will be discharged from the Lumpkin Education Center, Entrance C, as they wait for rides home, SBL VP Patient Care Continuum Sandy Miller, explained. Directional signage will be placed to help people find Entrance C.
The nine-bed Critical Care Unit is full, but as people begin to recover and are able, they are being moved to a step-down unit to make room for more severely ill people. Miller said, “We are using all the resources we have available to create the needed space for our patients.”
If you are ill, your first line of defense should be your primary care provider. Emergency Department Physician and Medical Director Joe Burton, DO, said, “We have found that people have delayed seeking care and when they come to the ER, they are terribly sick. If you cannot see your doctor, go to a Walk-In Clinic if it is not an emergency. We want you to be safe and get the care you need.”
In the Internal Disaster Plan, employees may be reassigned to other areas of the Health Center where they are most needed and have the skills and certifications to do this work.
Esker added, “We will remain on this Plan until we have some bed space in the Health Center and we’re able to turn the curve on this pandemic.”
On Thursday, there were 33 COVID-19 patients hospitalized and another 19 people being cared for at home through the COVID @ Home program in which they connect daily with a medical provider who monitors their conditions.