COVID-19 Response: Stephens County Hospital facility and ventilator capacity

Ramping up supplies of ventilators to meet the demands of COVID-19 is more than a matter of simply increasing physical stock of the machines.

With the Georgia's peak of COVID-19 cases reportedly passed according to CDC and Georgia Department of Public Health models and criteria, Stephens County Hospital remained well below capacity use of resources in terms of facility space, personnel, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves and gowns, and in terms of ventilators, according to hospital officials.


Stephens County Hospital added to their stock of eight on-site ventilators as concerns over the SARS-CoV-2 virus and it’s resulting health complications increased in the United States early in the year. The hospital procured four additional ventilators since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, brining the total of on-site ventilators to 12, Van Loskoski told ConnectLocal in mid April.


The hospital has not submitted a request for any additional ventilators, he said, but explained that regional hospitals are collaborating - meeting regularly through virtual meetings - and have discussed how many ventilators each hospital has on hand, in case the need arises for the transfer of patients from one facility to another to utilize on-hand ventilators.


While the hospital is not expecting any increase in their inventory of 12 ventilators, Loskoski said the hospital is also in regular communication with the Department of Public Heath regarding hospital resources.


“Should the need rise, we will apply for federal assistance with adding ventilators,” he said. “This is also another reason we are in constant communication with all other regional hospitals. Our resources are greater together than isolated and it will take a regional effort to combat this virus. We're working together with other hospitals in a truly uniform effort.”


Ramping up supplies of ventilators to meet the demands of COVID-19 is more than a matter of simply increasing physical stock of the machines, Loskoski said.


“Ventilator management requires a very specialized team- Physicians with critical care knowledge, Critical Care Nurses (both ED and ICU), and respiratory therapists. There are lab and radiology components as well,” he said. “The units themselves do require additional space in the patient's room – which our rooms are equipped to handle – as well as hook ups for medical gases and electricity.”


Ventilators are often a required component of care for COVID-19 patients who develop severe symptoms – approximately 5 percent of confirmed cases, according to CDC data.


“It is that fiver percent bracket of patients, those who are in critical care, that may require a ventilator,” Loskoski explained. “The issue with COVID is that patients are developing ARDS (adult respiratory distress syndrome) or respiratory failure, that in many cases require mechanical ventilation. The other caveat is that these patients are requiring longer length of stays so they may be on a ventilator much longer than average hospital admissions.”


According to today’s Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 statistics update, 59 patients have been treated at Stephens County Hospital for COVID-19 complications since early the county’s first confirmed COVID-19 case.


Of those 59, three were tested at another facility and later transferred to SCH; 56 were tested at a SCH facility and received a positive test result. Of the 59, 46 were either asymptomatic, or had symptoms mild enough to not require hospitalization, and were not admitted to the hospital. Those individuals were instructed to self-quarantine at home, communicating with hospital staff as necessary, and are considered to be recovering at home, or considered fully recovered, depending on whether they meet CDC guidelines for recovery.


Of the remaining 13, two have been transferred to another facility and their current condition is unknown, nine have been discharged due to reduction in symptoms and are either recovering at home, or are considered fully recovered. There has been one fatality, and one individual remains hospitalized at SCH for treatment, but no longer tests positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

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