May 25, 2020

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home : local news : local news

3/25/2020 12:45:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Hospital preparing for the worst
LAWRENCEVILLE - Although there had been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Lawrence County as of Monday afternoon, Lawrence County Memorial Hospital is taking necessary precautions.

"We're preparing for the worst and hoping for something much better than that," Don Robbins, the Chief Executive Officer at the hospital said on Monday.

As of last week, the hospital had erected a triage tent near the emergency room entrance, in the event that symptoms strike a multitude of Lawrence Countians all at once. In addition, the facility had increased its capacity from the standard 25 at critical access hospitals to more than 30.

Also, in recent days, the hospital has obtained a few ventilators, and beefed up its supply of other emergency items such as masks, eye gear, goggles, face shields and "bunny suits."

"We're not terribly bad in that regard right now," Robbins said. "But I know if an outbreak were to occur it could get pretty dire, pretty quick. We're reaching out to other organizations to try get some of those things built up, so we have the ability to protect our caregivers."

It's impossible not to notice the temporary triage tent when passing by the property. It will be put to use if multiple patients descend upon the hospital at once.

"It's in case people show up en masse with potential symptoms, looking like they need to be treated," said Robbins. "That'll allow us to test people outside the confines of the hospital, to avoid any spread within the hospital."

According to Robbins, symptoms of the coronavirus include a dry cough, a low-grade fever of perhaps 100 to 101, a sore throat and shortness of breath. Persons who are known to have been in contact with someone who's known to be infected, or who is known to have traveled to a "hot spot" will also be given greater priority when it comes to being tested.

Robbins said that someone who thinks they might be infected should first contact their health provider.

"That provider will then dictate what steps next need to be taken," he said.

In nearly all instances, regardless of whether or not they're tested, the patient will be sent home to recover. Most of the time, that will include a couple of weeks of quarantine.

"Normally, healthy individuals are going to be fine," said Robbins. "The more elderly population will probably be more susceptible. Their systems might be more compromised. Those are the people who will have to be monitored a little more closely."

Robbins admits to being "frustrated" by a lot of what's going on.

"I don't think it's right that hospitals are having to beg for protective equipment," he said. "We shouldn't have to do that in this day and time, in our great country, yet we are. I don't know if anybody knows the exact reason why, but it's deplorable in my book."


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