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home : local news : local news

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Local hospital prepares itself for influx of patients

from Staff Reports

LAWRENCEVILLE - Lawrence County Memorial Hospital is ready to handle an influx of coronavirus patients, while continuing to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

The hospital, which is generally capable of handling about 25 patients with its critical access status, now has the ability to handle more than 30. In addition, the Lawrence County Health Department has made arrangements to house approximately 20 or so additional patients at the former United Methodist Village nursing facility, 1616 Cedar Street.

Also, a triage tent, located near the hospital's emergency room entrance, has been in place for a couple of weeks. It would allow for doctors to asses patients, should a number of people be stricken all at once.

"We're just making sure the lines of communication are very much open with the health departments and other hospitals in the area," Lawrence County Memorial Hospital Chief Executive Officer Don Robbins said on Monday. "The hospitals all have plans, but they're not all the same. In the event of the worst-case scenario, and we have a big deluge of patients, we're going to make sure we're all on the same page and can handle that."

Robbins said that hospital has been productive in the last week, in that it's been able to obtain a good number of masks and other supplies.

Area farmers, he noted, have stepped forward and donated a number of the sought-after n95 masks.

"Farmers order multiple boxes of those, because they use them when they clean out their barns," Robbins said. "Some of them have stepped up and donated those, for which we're really grateful."

Additionally, community members are donating masks, some of which they're making at home.

Ventilators are also in short supply, and Robbins said that Lawrence County Memorial Hospital has two at its disposal. One of those was purchased in 2019 and is essentially "brand new," according to Robbins. The other, which was once the primary ventilator, serves as a backup.

"Both of them work perfectly fine," Robbins said. "A response team actually tested them out last week, and did some reviews of them to ensure quick and safe use."

With positive cases turning up in both Crawford County, as well as Knox County, Indiana, on Sunday, he's worried that multiple cases will soon develop here.

"I'm concerned that we'll have a big influx of patients who test positive, and I'm wondering how the community would respond to that," he said. "We're seeing positive cases come up in various counties around Lawrenceville, and that might heighten people's concerns."

Robbins notes that all of the restrictions at the hospital will remain in place, through at least the end of April.

There are no visiting hours at the facility, and only essential employees are reporting to work. In addition, the hospital's cafeteria - a popular breakfast and lunch spot for the public - has been temporarily closed.

Anyone who enters the building will be screened before being allowed in.

"Community hospitals all around are working together to fight this battle," Robbins said. "We don't want anyone to think, 'It's not as bad as people say, and it's not going to come here.' We all need to work together to keep the curve as flat as we can."





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