St. Joseph’s/Candler releases 12-month COVID-19 surge plan


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Hospital officials at St. Joseph’s/Candler tell News 3 the number of patients coming in with COVID-19 continues to grow. That’s why the hospital is implementing a 12-month surge plan. St. Joseph’s/Candler President and CEO Paul Hinchey says the hospital is prepared.

As COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to increase, St. Joseph’s/Candler is implementing that 12-month surge plan that has four levels. The hospital system currently is operating at level two with 49 COVID-19 patients and is prepping for level four.

“We have ordered all of the equipment to get ready for level four early,” Hinchey said.

The hospital is working to have at least 145 beds dedicated to the COVID-19 unit. Hinchey said this process will come with a price tag of $3.6 million. The work to add additional beds and build out existing areas of both hospitals for COVID-19 patients has already begun.

“You can’t just wake up one day and say hey, you know what, those beds that we’ve had out of service I think we’d like to put them in service. You’re going to be a day late and a dollar short,” Hinchey said.

The hospital is reworking their systems so they can take care of medical and surgical patients safely as well as those with COVID-19. The work to increase the hospital staff has also begun. A mixture of 30 nurses and respiratory therapists has been contracted for 13 weeks until the surge is over.

“So we got ahead of the curve on that. We’ve placed contracts for contract nursing as everybody in the country will be trying to do the same thing,” Hinchey said.

One hour testing is still a hot commodity right now so the hospital is working to keep that going along with securing the large amounts of personal protective equipment that will be needed. While hospitals in the area wait for those new COVID-19 cases to come health officials urge all to steer clear of risky situations.

“I don’t think it’s too big a price to pay to be aware of where we are,” Hinchey said.

Both hospitals will continue to restrict visitors. No visitors are allowed, except for the Telfair BirthPlace and one support person for those in Outpatient Surgery and the Emergency Department.

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