University Health System 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.
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. Since these tents went up in early April, University Hospital medical teams have rehearsed their response to a potential flood of COVID-19 patients checking in at the Emergency Department so that we’re ready when you need care.
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.