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Beaufort Memorial opens new COVID-19 triage, screening tents outside ER

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BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) – Beaufort Memorial Hospital has opened new COVID-19 tent facilities for patients who come to the emergency room with mild fever and respiratory symptoms.

“So in the Emergency Department we are seeing motor vehicle accidents, heart attacks, lacerations, we want to keep those two populations separated,” explains Dr Kurt Gambla, MD, Beaufort Memorial Chief Medical Officer.

“We will do an immediate assessment on them as soon as they walk in the door, ask them questions, check their oxygen levels, check their pulse, check their temperature if they appear ill they go right back to the emergency department as anyone would,” said Dr. Stephen Larson, MD, Emergency Medicine Director for Beaufort Memorial.

“For those patients that appear well, they go to the tent so that we can provide some more information for them,” said Dr. Larson. “The tent is a fail-safe for us, we are not going to be open for business and test everybody, what we want is to have a safety mechanism for those who feel they are short of breath.”

The hospital says patients with symptoms of the coronavirus may be directed to a COVID-19 triage tent and then to a screening tent, both located in the parking lot directly in front of the ER. The two climate-controlled tents protect ER patients without respiratory symptoms from potential exposure.

“A week or two again every case we saw made sense,” said Dr. Larson. “They traveled to new york, went to a wedding, on a cruise ship. Now we are seeing people who have lived in the community and are doing their daily work and come down sick with no known contact. This virus is in the community.”

The tents will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week until further notice.

“Our highest priority is patient and staff safety, and we believe this new triage and screening site supports both,” BMH President and CEO Russell Baxley said. “We are grateful to South Caroline DHEC for loaning the tents to us, and to the Charleston Fire Department for deploying them to Beaufort for this purpose.”

The hospital will continue to run its mobile test collection site at the Beaufort Memorial Medical and Administrative Center at 990 Ribaut Road. Patients reporting to this site must have a physician’s order and related paperwork on file before arriving.

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