Lowcountry hospitals discuss surge plans amid COVID-19 increases

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Increases in cases throughout the last few weeks in the Tri-county area have some hospital systems beginning to look at what they call ‘Surge Plans’. 

Dr. Mitchell Siegan, the Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Acute Care for Roper St. Francis Health, said one of the main ideas of their daily strategizing meeting is to be multiple steps ahead.

We are constantly looking for where we would put the next 10 patients—it’s a question we talk about every morning and looking for the next unit that we would potentially need to open. We are in the fortunate positions of having some units at Roper Hospital that were not currently being used prior to the Coronavirus Pandemic Crisis. So that allowed us to reopen closed units which has given us abundant capacity at this time. 

Dr. Mitchell Siegan, Chief Medical Officer/VP Acute Care Operation Roper 

Reopening those units, according to Dr. Siegan, allowed them to add an 40 additional beds back into rotation. A move that was similarly to that done at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). The Medical University said in part Monday, they have added 150 beds by taking up space in the old Children’s Hospital and in the ICU of their Ashley River Tower.   

MUSC also stated, they are working with the Army Corp of Engineers and South Carolina National Guard for a field hospital if needed on campus. As of now, the request for a field hospital has not been issued.   

As for Trident Health, the hospital system provided a statement of their plan to News 2, as they noted every hospital in Lowcountry is seeing an increase of demand for staff and beds.

“Every hospital in the Lowcountry continues to see more demand for beds and staff to care for COVID patients.  Our COVID patient safety plan allows us to incrementally create rooms in areas designated only for COVID patients.  We continue to join our healthcare partners in urging residents to consistently mask, socially distance and practice hand hygiene.  These continue to be the most effective steps to reduce the spread of COVID.” 

Dr. Lee Biggs, Chief Medical Officer, Trident Health 

On Tuesday, Roper Hospital also enacting an additional precaution to assist with COVID-19 coverage, which canceled elective surgeries for the time being.

The reason we’re canceling elective surgery at this time is to take the nurses—to take the team that would traditionally be taking care of patients in the operating room or in the pre-operative or post-operative time frame, and redirecting those nurses and clinical providers to the bedsides.  

Dr. Mitchell Siegan, Chief Medical Officer/VP Acute Care Operation Roper 

Some of those elective surgeries are listed as hernia repairs, knee replacements, hip replacements, hand surgeries, and some spine surgeries. All listed, can be postponed without any adverse consequences to the patient’s life. All urgent and emergent surgeries will continue on as they revolve around disease processes that could be life threatening or life altering.

MUSC said they are continuing their elective procedures at this time and are operating at a ‘normal’ level.

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