Memorial Health prepares for COVID-19 surge with tent ER


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Memorial Health is preparing for a surge of COVID-19 cases in the area. The Chatham Emergency Management Agency donated a large tent to screen patients who are showing symptoms.

A parking lot is blocked off at the Memorial Health Medical Center for the large white tent that will help doctors screen patients safely for COVID-19.

“To prepare for the volume we want to have a place to see patients that may not be as acutely ill as some of the patients that are requiring the care that we provide inside of the emergency department,” Emergency Department Director at Memorial Health, Lori Conaway said.

The tent will be used when the surge of COVID-19 cases start to pour into the Coastal Empire. It’s a remote location where x-rays and other treatments can be done.

“Sky’s the limit for this area. Right now we have 15 treatment bays. Hopefully, this will not be an area where patients will sit for a while. We’re not planning on drawing labs or doing extended workups out here,” Emergency Department Medical Director at Memorial Health, Jay Goldstein.

This makeshift ER isn’t a place for someone to be tested for COVID-19, though. Tests are only done for those who are admitted to the hospital.

“We haven’t done a lot of outpatient testing so we think there’s essentially a false sense of security on the amount of COVID-19 cases that are in our area at this time so we think that we’re going to see a surge over the next seven to 28 days,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein said there could be hundreds to thousands of cases in this area that aren’t being represented in the daily numbers released due to not being able to test.

“Their illness and the way they present it’s almost spot on for the COVID-19 illness but again because we’re not allowed at this point secondary to lack of testing availability to do the outpatient tests we’re not testing them,” Goldstein said.

Memorial Health doctors said when the day comes the tent will only take 30 minutes to become fully operational. They say they’ve been watching what other states are doing to prepare.

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