MUSC update: New digital resource indicates hospital surge in coming weeks, social distancing is working


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – MUSC leaders held a teleconference on Wednesday morning to announce a platform to provide analytics to the public.


The MUSC COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project is a virtual resource designed to provide modeling and data on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project’s first report indicates that hospitals will likely experience a surge of COVID-19 patients “beginning in the next few weeks.” MUSC believes that they have adequate capacity to handle the surge.

The report also highlighted “evidence that in the past three weeks, social distancing as reduced the growth of new cases substantially.” However, “vigilance is needed to assure that the COVID-19 transmission remains controlled.” Of particular concern is a premature relaxing of social distancing measures, which could lead to a spike in case numbers. “Super spreader” events, cluster outbreaks, and future waves have the capacity to “rapidly change epidemic trajectory.” MUSC says that they will monitor events closely and provide the public with updates and analyses.


As of Wednesday, 41 members of the healthcare workforce have tested positive for COVID-19. This means that no additional healthcare workers have tested positive since last Monday. MUSC said that from now on, the number of infected staff “will only be confirmed or provided upon request” because of “the stability of the number over time and the extensive precautions being taken by the system to minimize the risk of exposure.”

MUSC said “it is clear in may cases that our care team members who tested positive…acquired from community and travel transmission. Many of the team members “have fared well and recovered quickly.”

MUSC described the COVID-19 return to work policy as “very conservative.” Members are not allowed to come to work if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, “or if they have not completed the testing process when known to have a high-risk exposure in or outside of work.”

Patients who may have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive staff member are notified according to internal notification and tracing protocols.

MUSC has seen around 5,000 patients at the West Ashley specimen collection site and completed 6,923 COVID-19 tests.

In addition to the 41 healthcare workers, there are currently 6 inpatient cases and 401 outpatient cases of COVID-19 identified by MUSC.

MUSC says that inpatient and outpatient cases are no longer being added together for an overall total because that is an inaccurate representation of the data. They cite “fluidity in patient status (i.e., from hospitalization to home isolation or vice versa)” as the variable element.


MUSC’s supply status is currently still “green,” meaning they are not out of any necessary items at the moment.

In anticipation of a surge in COVID-19 patients, they are centralizing supply distribution and reducing the overall use of personal protective equipment (PPE) where possible. Healthcare providers have been advised to:

  •  Work expeditiously to transfer non-COVID-19 patients out of airborne infection isolation rooms
  • Centralize the supply of all PPE items in a secured area.
  • Clearly identify essential personnel who will be caring for any rule out or confirmed COVID-19 patient and limit entry into the patient room to those essential individuals.
  • Use face-fitting N95 respirators while in the same room as a rule-out COVID-19 or lab-confirmed COVID-19 patient for most patient care activities (There are some exceptions that are considered safe for care team members.)
  • Limit the number of individuals in the room when performing high-risk aerosol generating
  • procedures.
  • Use face-fitting N95 respirators while in the same room as a rule-out COVID-19 or lab-confirmed COVID-19 patient.
  •  Not wear face-fitting N95 respirators while in hospital common areas that are not related to patient care activity.
  • Use surgical/isolation face masks when experiencing minor respiratory symptoms attributable to non-infectious causes (ex- mild nasal congestion consistent with personal allergic history).
  • Care team members may now wear surgical/isolation face masks while in common areas of the hospital.


MUSC and the SC State Guard converted an on campus fitness center into a 250-bed field hospital to be used for recovering COVID-19 patients.

MUSC can also use space in the University Hospital Extension and Ashley River Tower for an additional 150 beds. These spaces will be used before the field hospital.

In house testing capacity is “fully mobilized.” Specimens are no longer being sent to DHEC or private labs. MUSC expects a significant reduction in wait times for test results.

DONATIONS REQUESTED: (MUSC Warehouse 4295 Arco Lane Charleston, SC 29418)

  • N95 masks
  • Surgical masks
  • Protective eyewear
  • Face guards and face shields
  • Sterile gloves
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Industrial cleaning wipes
  • Thermometers (all kinds)
  • Hydroxychloroquine
  • Azithromycin
  • Ethanol
  • 200 proof USP-grade alcohol

WORKFORCE ADJUSTMENTS (statewide as of 4/6/20):

As elective surgeries have been put on hold, MUSC has seen significant financial damage. To mitigate the impacts, MUSC announced that they will be re-aligning the workforce “to sustain essential services with compensation reduction and temporary layoffs.”

Every member of the MUSC health team will be impacted: leaders will see a 20% pay-cut and salaried employees will see a 15% pay-cut.

Hourly employees who are not direct patient caregivers will see significantly reduced hours.

MUSC is planning on temporarily laying off around 900 health care team members across the state.

It is important to note that “frontline health care team members who have already seen fewer work hours due to COVID-19 response will not see any additional pay cuts.”

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