SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Healthcare is gearing up for a surge of COVID-19 patients.
Doctors and health analysts predict the peak number of COVID-19 cases to hit Utah within the next few weeks.
Healthcare administrators state there’s a problem with relying on projection models to guess when COVID-19 will peak. Many of these projections don’t agree with each other.
“Our teams have looked at a number of models across the country and around the world and have tried to understand those models and project ours,” said Intermountain Healthcare Chief Operating Officer Rob Allen. “One thing that we know is that every model is wrong because there are a number of factors that have to be built in and projected in them.”
Allen believes that if there is going to be a surge of new cases, it would overwhelm IHC if they don’t make changes.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the health agency outlined measures to address an anticipated influx of coronavirus patients.
The medical center stated preparation for the virus started weeks ago when Intermountain postponed elective procedures to preserve personal protective equipment (PPE) and hospital beds.
But, Intermountain said more needs to be done to protect and care for healthcare staff and citizens.
“We’re not in normal times and we do not have the luxury of waiting to see what will happen,” said Allen. “We’re preparing for changes to our normal operations to best serve our patients and the larger community.”
Intermountain Healthcare is implementing a list of measures to respond to a surge of COVID-19 patients within the next coming weeks or months.
Adding more beds
Intermountain has identified ways to add more ICU and surgical beds to its hospitals.
Medical unit conversions
Many Intermountain hospitals will convert medical unoccupied units and equip them with ventilators and supplies to treat COVID-19. Community ICUs will be used to treat patients with less severe symptoms of COVID-19.
The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH) conversion
TOSH, in Murray, will be turned into a facility to treat medical/surgical patients who do not have COVID-19 to keep patients separated from the virus. Other hospitals in the Salt Lake Valley may direct patients to TOSH for non-COVID-19 care.
“We’re going to, this week, test our abilities to handle these different types of diagnosis at TOSH,” noted Allen.
Inpatient pediatric care
If necessary, inpatient pediatric care will be moved to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. Pediatric units at Riverton Hospital, McKay-Dee Hospital, and Utah Valley Hospital are ready to transfer patients to Primary Children’s. Primary Children’s will also admit young adult patients under the age of 30 if needed.
All Intermountain clinics will continue to operate as normal, offering COVID-19 testing, urgent care visits, and necessary doctor’s visits. If needed, Intermountain will convert clinic rooms into COVID-19 patient rooms.
Intermountain is training, redeploying, and activating physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and support teams. The medical center will redeploy clinic-based medical assistants and train them to provide hospital care. Anesthesiologists will transition from surgery to help COVID-19 patients needing respiratory treatment in ICUs. The plan also includes hiring nurses in their senior year of school.
How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus
COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:
- Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
- Don’t touch your face.
- Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
- If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
- Get a flu shot.
Resources for more information
State of Utah: https://coronavirus.utah.gov/
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707
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