Officials: Atrium Medical Center set for potential patient surge due to coronavirus

Special tents have been erected outside the emergency area of Atrium Medical Center in Middletown to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

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Special tents have been erected outside the emergency area of Atrium Medical Center in Middletown to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Atrium Medical Center, the only comprehensive hospital facility in Warren County, is ready “for a potential surge of patients due to the coronavirus pandemic,” according to Dr. Keith Bricking, president of the hospital.

On Thursday, the number of COVID-19 cases confirmed in Warren County rose to 10, none “currently” at the hospital, officials said Friday.

RELATED: 11th COVID-19 case confirmed in Warren County

“Atrium Medical Center continues to partner with public health authorities to prepare for a potential surge of patients due to the coronavirus pandemic. As always, our top priority is ensuring the health and safety of our patients, visitors and employees,” Bricking said. “Currently, there are no COVID-19 positive patients admitted at Atrium.”

At least one person who tested positive came to the hospital earlier in the month.

“This person returned home and went into self-quarantine,” Jennifer Burcham, the hospital’s site manager for public relations said in a March 17 statement indicating proper steps were taken to protect staff from exposure.

“The patient is recovering at home.”

RELATED: Commissioners vote not to declare health emergency sought by health, emergency officials 

On Friday, the hospital president said a respiratory surge unit had been opened “for multiple levels of care, including high-risk respiratory patients. We will continue to adjust capabilities as the situation evolves.”

Patients are screened outside the emergency room through a”split-flow-process” for patients with symptoms of upper respiratory infection or flu-like symptoms from others.

“With the incredible speed at which things are changing around us, Atrium is continually adapting its plans to provide both clinically excellent care to our patients and the highest level of support to our employees,” Bricking added in a response to questions from this newspaper.

The hospital is following Center for Disease Control guidelines “to identify and isolate patients who might be contagious, and to prevent unnecessary exposure so that patients affected by COVID-19 will be able to get the care they need while protecting staff,” Bricking said.

RELATED: Atrium to screen possible coronavirus patients outside ER

In addition, the hospital has equipment and facilities “for patients with COVID-19, but also for other patients.”

“We are conserving supplies, and none of them are at critically low levels. Steps proactively taken, such as postponing elective surgeries, have helped conserve resources such as blood, ventilators, and personal protective equipment for providers,” the Atrium president said.

Bricking directed those wanting to donate “personal protective equipment” to email HelpingHands@premierhealth.com or visit the hospital’s web site. He also expressed thanks for support from local and state officials and recognized hospital staffers.

“Atrium’s outstanding physicians, nurses, allied health professionals and support staff on the front lines of this ongoing battle are truly community heroes. Every day they are demonstrating bravery, patience and compassion to make a profound difference during this extremely difficult time,” Bricking said.

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