Like other hospitals in Georgia, Tanner Health System’s hospitals in Carrollton, Villa Rica and Bremen will install exterior patient care facilities on their hospital campuses to prepare for a possible surge of novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) cases.
The exterior care sites — housed in tents on the hospital campuses, complete with cots, recliners and climate control — will be in place by Monday, March 23.
The tents will be used to triage and, if necessary, deliver care to patients who are symptomatic for COVID-19 — including those with a fever, cough and shortness of breath.
This comes as one of Tanner’s hospitals — Tanner Medical Center/East Alabama — closes to visitors by state order and the health system’s other facilities continue to tighten visitor policies to protect patients, visitors and staff from possible exposure to the virus.
Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton has closed its Outpatient Surgery entrance on Clinic Avenue, and Higgins General Hospital in Bremen is accessible only at the facility’s emergency entrance. All visitors must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and possible exposure before entering the hospital.
“We’ve worked with our laboratory partners to put in place a process for expediting COVID-19 test results, and we’re expanding options for outpatient testing,” said Ben Camp, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Tanner. “We’re monitoring the situation and making adjustments as the situation develops to ensure the safety and care our community needs.”
In Georgia, as of Friday morning, the number of positive COVID-19 tests had reached almost 300, and the death toll has climbed to 10.
Thursday night, Tanner received its first positive results on eight patients — seven from Carroll County, one from Polk County. All but three were sent home to self-isolate with care instructions from the Georgia DPH. Tanner has submitted hundreds of samples to outside lab partners for analysis, with results pending.
“People in our community need to know that all the steps we are taking are designed to keep them safe,” said Laura Larson, MD, board-certified in infectious diseases and medical director of infection prevention at Tanner. “Protecting the community from infectious diseases is what we do. Our patients are receiving the best possible care, and we’re taking every precaution to keep them safe and the virus contained. That’s why we’re taking these steps.”
COVID-19 testing is only available by physician order. To see if you should be screened, contact your healthcare provider.
Earlier this week, Tanner put in place extra measures to protect its patients and visitors, including screening precautions, limiting patients to one visitor at a time, restricting access to visitors younger than 16 and closing some hospital entrances.
“We’ve been planning for the possibility of taking these measures for some time,” said Dr. Camp. “Ensuring the safety of our community during a viral outbreak is our mission as a community healthcare system. We’re continuing to monitor developments across the country and the latest guidelines from the CDC. We’re working in partnership with the Georgia Department of Health, and we’re ready to serve patients with COVID-19 in our community.”
More information on the measures Tanner is taking can be found at tanner.org/ncov.