GRMC prepares in case of influx of COVID-19 patients
Graham Regional Medical Center is prepared for a surge in COVID-19 patients, changing some protocols in the Emergency Room and transforming the former women’s center and general surgery clinic into a COVID-19 center, with a rapid assessment clinic, seven inpatient rooms and an ICU unit.
Staff from GRMC aired a virtual tour via Facebook, to inform the community of their preparedness in case of a surge due to COVID-19.
“Over the last month, we have been strategically planning (for) a surge of COVID-19 patients,” Shelly Walls, GRMC Director of Medical/Surgical Dept., said on the Facebook tour. “This has been a collaborative effort from our board of directors, down through every department, to include nursing, IT, EMS, housekeeping, plant management. Anybody and everybody here at the hospital has come together and worked to make this happen.”
Walls said the hospital is hopeful to not have to use their plan, but wanted to inform the community of the capabilities the hospital has.
Enoc Espinoza, GRMC Emergency Department Director, stated in the video that the GRMC Emergency Room is still open, but some of their policies and procedures have changed.
“We are trying our best to separate any respiratory or possible COVID cases from the regular ER,” Espinoza said. “If you were to come in here to the main entrance of the ER, we are probably going to ask you some questions about fever, shortness of breath, exposure to any possible COVID. If you have a visitor with you, we are going to limit visitors, as well. We will have them screened, as well, check their temperature, ask them some questions.”
He said that if someone was to come into the ER with fever and cough, they would send them to the respiratory clinic, established where the women’s center used to be.
“Our team has worked really hard to prepare this new area for us to expand in this time of emergency. Our patients that have respiratory symptoms, we’ll be directing them around to our west side entrance, which is under the canopy, easily accessible,” Sharon Hilliard, GRMC’s Chief Nursing Officer, said. “We have a separate rapid assessment center that will have patients come in there and be screened and treated. Either sent home, if they are able to be treated and go home to be quarantined at home, or else they will be able to go into our hospital and be in the beds there. We have even expanded to have some ICU beds available when needed.”
Hilliard spoke about their new rapid assessment area, or ‘ER 2’, which will only be used for respiratory patients. She explained that, in the entrance of the respiratory ER, patients will be greeted by a nurse that will ask further questions about symptoms.
Patients will enter a clinic-type area where they are registered and brought back to be seen in one of four rapid medical assessment rooms.
Espinoza explained that in these rooms, patients will be checked out and receive any lab work that may need to be done. Patients may be moved to another area, if needed. He said that if patients are well enough, they will be sent home to self-quarantine. For patients that may need some fluid or antibiotics, the new ‘ER 2’ has an infusion area.
“In the event that you aren’t well enough to go home, and need to be admitted to the hospital, we have created an area where that is going to take place,” Walls said. “Unfortunately, back when the board of directors had to determine that it would no longer be feasible to utilize the Maternal Ward, we are now fortunate enough to have that to put patients in.”
In this area, the hospital has seven inpatient rooms, with an ICU area that is capable of supplying seven ventilators, according to Walls.
Walls also explained that they have personal protective equipment in stock in this area, if needed, including masks, gloves and gowns.
“We hope this is something that we don’t have to utilize, but we want the community to know we’re prepared, we’re ready,” Walls said. “We’re here for you, we want to keep you safe.”