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Local hospitals preparing in case of surge in COVID-19 cases

NOW: Local hospitals preparing in case of surge in COVID-19 cases

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. — With the increase in COVID cases across Michiana, hospitals are monitoring the situation in case there’s a surge in COVID cases like we’ve seen in other states.

St. Joseph Health System CEO Chad Towner said he’s cautiously optimistic in how they’ve been handling COVID cases. He also mentioned if there’s a surge in cases in Michiana, it’ll become a team effort.

“What if, we have a 10 multiple increases in new cases because of the significant outbreak, then that’s something we’d have to work closely with other hospital systems in the region,” Towner said. “With the health departments and with the state to make sure that we are able to possibly move patients around to make sure that they are properly cared for.”

In the state of Indiana, there have been roughly 65,900 coronavirus cases, and although that’s nowhere near the number of cases seen in hotspots like Texas or Florida, local health officials are monitoring the situation. Towner said St. Joseph Health System in Mishawaka has enough ICU beds and ventilators for the volume of patients they have now, but that number can change.

“On the Mishawaka campus we have 28 ICU beds, we’ve been able to create a surge capacity where we could grow if needed, that that number then gets up in in the 80s,” Towner said.

They’ve also created COVID units and non-COVID units throughout the hospital. Towner said it’s important to create that safe space for both patients and staff.

“We have extensive training for our staff at the entry point within the emergency department to identify those that are potentially at risk for COVID and for those that are not,” Towner said. “The other thing we’re doing in our clinics out in the community is we’ve created what we call a Fury clinic, which is a fever, upper respiratory infection clinic, which also separates people from the normal clinic operations. So if someone calls ahead and says, boy I’ve got a fever, or I've got this upper respiratory cough, we’re going to route them differently instead of going to the lobby with the rest of the patients there for an annual checkup.”

According to Towner one of the biggest problems is people getting tested too soon. He advises waiting five days from a known exposure before getting tested. The hospital also has an outreach program that started in April. The St. Joseph Health System Community Well-Being team created a hotline where anyone in the community can call and receive information on the response team and COVID testing sites.

You can call the hotline number at (574) 335-8560.

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