University Health has been responding to the COVID-19 situation since it was called “Novel Coronavirus 2019-nCoV.” The first meeting of our Infectious Disease Response Group was on January 29– six weeks before COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11. And we haven’t stopped.
In early April, we erected two large tents outside the University Hospital emergency department as a triage site for quickly identifying patients who may be infected with the virus. While we have since dismantled the tents, University Hospital medical teams have rehearsed their response to a potential flood of COVID-19 patients checking in at the Emergency Department, and are ready to implement this triage plan again as needed.
We have enacted many other major changes to prepare for this public health emergency, including:
- The conversion of some hospital rooms to expand our ICU capacity.
- Consolidating clinics and moving most of our patients to telemedicine to limit in-person contact.
- Setting up screening tables and staffing the community testing collection point at Freeman Coliseum.
- Establishing an in-house lab at University Hospital to test our patients for COVID-19 to allow for faster, more efficient results.
- Stocking up on PPE and other critical equipment in the event of a surge of patients.
- The design of new sterilization procedures to extend the lifetime of our current mask supply, and a new type of mask sourced from local supplies in the event of a shortage.