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Bayhealth sets up tents for potential overflow

Delaware News Desk
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

Tents were recently set up outside the emergency departments at Bayhealth's Kent and Sussex hospital campuses. 

The tents are an effort to prepare for a possible surge of patients due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and to keep patients seeking emergency care for other illnesses and injuries separated and safe. According to Bayhealth Medical Director of Emergency Services Kelly Abbrescia, the tents will be used as overflow emergency department areas for COVID-19 patients and those suspected of having it based on symptoms. 

The tents will be temperature-controlled spaces equipped with heating, air-conditioning, electricity and IT access. They will have patient stations, desks and their own waiting areas, and there will be portable restrooms outside the tents.

Abbrescia said that at the Kent Campus, the existing emergency department space, including the waiting room, was divided over three weeks ago. There are separate areas for patients with symptoms of COVID-19 and for those experiencing other medical issues. A pod inside the department has been designated specifically for COVID-19 patients needing an IV and more intense care. There is a seven-bed area within the converted ED waiting room for those considered lower-risk COVID-19 patients not needing critical care.

If those beds become full, the 26 patient stations in the tent will likely be used to treat other COVID-19 patients in similar condition. The division of the waiting area and other protocols, such as using disposable curtains that are changed between each patient, have been put in place for the safety of all patients and staff.  

“We are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst,” said Abbrescia. “Bayhealth’s Administration and Incident Command have been fantastic throughout the process—very realistic about the potential situations we will face and committed to all the necessary preparations and precautions. They’ve been incredibly organized and supportive and we’re grateful for that.”

The emergency department at Bayhealth Kent and Sussex campuses and Bayhealth Emergency Center in  Smyrna are still operating 24 hours a day to handle all non-COVID-19 related emergencies and urgent care as they usually do.

For more information, visit Bayhealth.org/COVID-19.