MIAMI COUNTY — Officials from the Upper Valley Medical Center (UVMC) and Premier Health spoke with the Board of Miami County Commissioners via a phone conference on Thursday afternoon, updating the commissioners on how UVMC and Premier Health are preparing for a surge in COVID-19 patients in late April and/or early May.
“We at Upper Valley and Premier Health are prepared for what is coming our way,” said Tom Parker, chief experience officer for Premier Health and president of UVMC.
Parker said, through use of predictive modeling, they are expecting to see a surge of COVID-19 patients in this region of Ohio toward the end of April and/or the first week of May.
“It’s fluid, and it changes quickly,” Parker said about predictive modeling.
Parker said UVMC is preparing to expand its internal bed capacity, going over the hospital’s surge plans.
“When we talk about surge, what we’re really describing , commissioners, is our anticipation of the influx of large numbers of individuals who be sick with COVID-19 symptoms and who will require the most intensive and critical care inside the walls of the hospitals,” Parker said.
The hospital’s preparations include implementing a “split flow” in the emergency department, where patients exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 are admitted through one area and all other emergency patients go through a separate door to help prevent the virus from being spread to patients who do not have it.
UVMC has also reduced access to the hospital with only two points of entry, which are staffed. Hospital employees are also undergoing mandatory temperature checks. UVMC has added a high-risk respiratory unit, which includes an additional 10 beds for the hospital.
“Currently, we are preparing to surge to about two times the number of beds that we currently operate on today,” said Barbara Johnson, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Premier Health. Johnson said Premier Health has built in the capacity to double their current capacity to fill that need with help from the Ohio National Guard.
“With staffing and with support from the Ohio National Guard, we should be able to supply those surge areas that we’re going to need to take care of the most critically ill,” Johnson said.
Johnson said if the area should need to have an alternate treatment center, such if the demand is beyond what local hospitals are able to handle with their current facilities, the state is preparing for this region’s alternate treatment site to be the Dayton Convention Center. Johnson said the Dayton Convention Center would be used for the “mildly ill,” saying it would be like an “enormous outpatient care” center.
Supplies, equipment, and testing kits are also a concern for health officials.
In responding to questions from the commissioners, Johnson said personal protective equipment (PPE) is “an enormous concern with us right now,” as well as ventilators. She said the shortage of ventilators is the “most troubling.”
“Our healthcare systems are doing absolutely everything we can do to get prepared for this surge,” Johnson said.
Health officials encouraged the public to continue social distancing practices and adhering to the state’s “Stay at Home” order, as Parker noted health officials are seeing these measures “flattening the curve” for the state of Ohio.