In nearby Manchester, TN, Unity Medical Center announced that it is preparing additional space off-site for patient care. The off-site unit is located across the street from the hospital campus in the Pavilion at 482 Interstate Drive. Unity explained that it wanted to be as prepared as possible for an influx of patients presenting with SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus responsible for the disease COVID-19.
Tennessee has over 3,600 documented cases but most experts believe that this number will rise dramatically as the ability to test becomes more available. The plan for the off-site unit is to care for less acute, non-COVID-19 patients still needing inpatient care. Treating these patients off-site leaves more room at the hospital itself for sicker or contagious patients.
"We hope that we will never be forced to use the off-site unit for patient care because that would mean that we are being overrun with seriously ill patients," stated Ashoke "Bappa" Mukherji, Chairman of the Board of Unity. "However, if there is a surge of COVID-19 patients and larger hospitals cannot continue to take our transfers, we need to be as ready as possible."
Unity would utilize physicians, nurses and staff from their two outpatient clinics to staff the off-site unit.
"If we are faced with a situation where patient needs exceed the hospital's capacity, we would be shutting down the clinics anyway to help prevent further spread of the virus," stated Martha McCormick, Chief Executive Officer of the hospital. "It may be a little different for our clinic staff to provide inpatient care, but they are completely capable and up to the task." She continued, "The idea is not to place patients in an area where they would receive substandard care, it is to continue to treat patients and minimize the risk they would be infected when receiving the care they require during a pandemic."
Kenneth Ware, Unity's Chief Nursing Officer, reported that the off-site unit would ready for operation in a matter of days and could house as many as 12-14 patients.
"I'm incredibly proud of our staff that continues to show up to work on the front lines every day and is willing to step up to whatever challenges are thrown at them," explained Ware. "Like most hospitals, we have never had to open off-site inpatient care, but our team pulled it together in a matter of days."
The national declaration of a medical emergency permitted hospitals to provide patient care outside of the hospital itself.
Unity Medical Center is a 49-bed acute care hospital located at 481 Interstate Drive in Manchester that operates two rural health clinics employing over 40 medical providers. If you are having difficulty breathing or other respiratory distress or have a fever over 100.1, call your primary care provider. Unity Medical Center can be reached by phone at 931-728-6354.
Source: Partner Station WMSR