Beaufort Middle gym could house coronavirus patients

in Coronavirus/Health by

Beaufort Memorial Hospital identifies alternate care site in case of surge

From staff reports

Beaufort Middle School’s gymnasium may become an alternate care site for patients if a surge in COVID-19 cases outpaces the Beaufort Memorial Hospital’s bed capacity, officials announced Friday, April 10.

Last week, representatives from multiple agencies, including Beaufort Memorial (BMH), Beaufort County School District, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), Beaufort County Emergency Management Division, Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Division, the National Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers surveyed the site and determined that it could become a temporary hospital for patients who do not require the intensive care and equipment reserved for critically-ill COVID-19 patients.

“We have been working very closely with a number of agencies to prepare for a possible surge and are fine-tuning processes for triaging and transporting patients to the appropriate care site, if necessary,” BMH President and CEO Russell Baxley said in a release.

The surge model, developed in conjunction with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division and the National Guard, outlines a three-tiered approach to managing volume based on patient acuity. The alternative care site is a Tier II option under this approach.

Hospital officials are working on the final details of the plan to submit to DHEC, which is responsible for approving such sites across the state. The site plan includes accommodations for 50 cots, with flexibility to add up to 25 additional cots, if necessary.

Once the plans are approved, the hospital’s emergency management team will deliver cots, equipment, supplies and technology to ready the facility.

“This is very much an exercise in preparation, and a resource we hope we will never need,” Baxley said. “If we all do our part as a community to flatten the curve we will not need to use this site, but we would rather have it ready for use just in case.”

The hospital expects to have the site fully prepped by the end of this week and will depend on its IT, Environmental Services, Pharmacy and other teams to provide technical support, cleaning, linen and medication management services for the site.

Both the hospital and the school district have contracts with national food supplier Sodexo and will work together to mobilize food services for the location, if necessary. In addition, the school district will extend critical access to its Wi-Fi networks and other resources to support the operation.

If the need arises to treat patients in the gym during a surge, the hospital’s Environmental Services team will clean and disinfect the building with the same processes, products and standards used in the hospital setting every day to ensure it is ready for school use when classes and activities resume.

“Superintendent Dr. Frank Rodriguez and his staff have been extraordinarily supportive in this endeavor and we could not be more grateful,” Baxley said. “This is truly a collaborative effort to keep our community, patients and staff as safe as possible during these unprecedented times.