PRMC erects portable unit, will cancel most surgeries

Peninsula Regional Medical Center has constructed a 20-bed mobile hospital on its campus to assist with potential patient overflow.

In the wake of the coronavirus emergency, Peninsula Regional Medical Center has canceled all elective surgical procedures for now and has erected a 20-bed inflatable portable hospital on its campus.

The unit, which is self-contained and features heat and air conditioning, is stocked with basic medical supplies and 20 cots. 

PRMC intends to use the regional medical station for patient overflow and surge control for a variety of conditions including the seasonal flu and COVID-19.

“We’re placing the mobile regional medical station on our campus adjacent to the Emergency Department, which allows us to maintain a state of readiness in the event our region experiences the need to expand either Emergency Department or Inpatient bed capacity. Staffing will be in alignment with the needs of the population we are caring for in the mobile medical station,” said Sarah Arnett, Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer.

The tent measures 22 feet wide and 70 feet long and is wind rated up to 70 mph.

It can be easily dismantled and reconstructed in about 45 minutes at a different location if needed.

The Delmarva Regional Healthcare Mutual Aid Group originally purchased the tent.  The Maryland Emergency Management Agency is responsible for its deployment.

PRMC worked with Wicomico County Health Officer Lori Brewster, who made the official request through MEMA, to bring it to Salisbury.

As a regional asset, it is available to other hospitals and agencies on the Eastern Shore, and could be activated as a mobile hospital in response to any emergency or mass casualty event.

Responsibility for the mobile hospital now transfers to PRMC. It is the only inflatable regional medical station on the Eastern Shore.

Meanwhile, hospital officials said they will begin canceling elective, non-emergency surgeries on Monday, March 23, as a part of the overall strategy to conserve and direct resources to the highest areas of need as we prepare for a possible COVID-19 outbreak in our community.

Not every surgery will stop on Monday; rather, it means that all surgeries will be evaluated and those that can be canceled will be. Patients will be notified ahead of time.

The medical staff has agreed on a set of criteria to determine which surgeries will be canceled, and when.

The criteria we are using mirror those established by other hospital systems with guidance from the American College of Surgeons. 

“Delaying elective surgeries – those that are not urgent – is a tactic that most hospitals around the country have or will use to achieve two goals during this crisis,” said Dr. Mark Edney, President of the Medical Staff at PRMC.

“First, delaying surgeries that are not urgent or emergent saves supplies, personnel and other resources that are needed to be used for those sickened by the virus.” he said. “Second, it reduces unnecessary exposure of community members to the hospital environment when they don’t absolutely need to be here.

“We are sensitive to the need to balance the community need for these important but non-emergent surgeries with the need to conserve resources and minimize unnecessary exposure to the hospital environment. When implemented on Monday, it will be for a two-week timeframe and then re-evaluated on a rolling basis (with potential to extend the timeframe) so that we can deactivate the policy as soon as it is safe based on real-time data on viral spread and the hospital’s ongoing experience in treating affected community members.” Edney said.

Patients with questions should call their surgeon’s office to verify whether their surgery is still going forward.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Maryland Department of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage

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