Wicomico County Coronavirus cases now at 63

Peninsula Regional Medical Center, in cooperation with the Wicomico County Health Department and the Delmarva Shorebirds, conducted a Drive-Thru Covid-19 Sample Collection at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium on Tuesday. The clinic was for patients referred by their doctor who had scheduled an appointment through the Covid-19 hotline only, are exhibiting symptoms and meet stringent sampling criteria. The swabs collected will be sent to a lab for testing to determine if the sample is positive. All who were tested at the request of their doctor will be informed of the results.

Wicomico County has 63 confirmed cases of coronavirus, state health officials reported at midweek.

Additional cases have also been confirmed in Worcester County, which now reports 21 people as having Covid-19.

One person has died from the virus in Wicomico County.

The patient count in Somerset is five, which makes for a total of 89 cases in the Lower Shore counties.

Officials concede there are likely more cases in the communities, as many virus victims have not been tested.

Dorchester County counts 14 cases with one death. Caroline County has reported 21 cases; Talbot County has recorded 16 cases with one patient death.  

Statewide in Maryland, 9,472 cases have been confirmed, with 302 deaths reported. The hospitalization totals of people with the virus stands at 2,122.

PRMC officials have converted a conference center in the Layfield Tower to a Covid-19 Unit that will accommodate 43 beds.

Health care leaders said Tuesday that a significant surge in the number of positive Covid-19 cases is coming, and probably soon.

“We are anticipating a spike within the next two weeks with significant potential for respiratory failure requiring ventilation. Our plan is to be able to house over 100 ventilated patients in PRMC,” said Dr. Chris Snyder, Chief Quality Officer and Chief of the Covid-19 Response Team at PRMC.

“The team is modifying PRMC to become a Covid hospital if necessary,” he said.

Preparation, albeit challenging, is essential, according to Snyder.

As the flagship and tertiary hospital of the Peninsula Regional Health System, health care leaders have been spurring creativity in unprecedented ways.

The medical center has renovated the ground floor of its Layfield Tower. What was once a bustling and spacious three-room Hallowell Conference Center and adjacent office space that could accommodate hundreds, is now a fully equipped 43-bed Intensive Care Unit prepared for the inevitable spike.

The initial concept was smooth, but adding in all of the services provided to an ICU that expands capacity for the entire health system was a challenge, especially negative airflow. 

“Negative-pressure rooms are ventilated in a way that allows air to flow into the room, but not out of it, to contain all airborne contaminants,” said Tom Anderson, PRMC’s Senior Director of Property Management and Construction. “However, with everyone working as a team, all of the options were vetted and the solution is a converted space to an ICU.”

The process took 18 straight days with teams from AIM, Rommel Electric, Whiting Turner, Zimmer Mechanical, Quality Sheet Metal, K.B. Coldiron, Clean Edge, Kitchen Concepts, Modern Controls and Chesapeake Balancing working in cooperation with PRMC to transform the 20,000 square feet.

The result is a Covid ICU where one was never imagined, but completely functional with all medical gases (oxygen, vacuum and medical air), emergency power, nursing stations, printers, phones, EPIC medical record charting and other peripheral equipment.  The unit also features clean and dirty rooms to put on and take off protective gear. ICU staff, once donned with the necessary protective equipment for treating Covid-19 patients, can also move from room to room without leaving what clinicians call the “dirty space” or the actual patient treatment area of the Hallowell Covid ICU.

The unit can begin housing patients in an instant to complement the Medical Center’s traditional ICU, where PRMC plans to house critically ill non-Covid patients. It also joins an eight-bed negative-pressure Covid ICU previously established in the former pediatrics space off the Emergency Department, and a Covid treatment unit on the fifth floor of the Layfield Tower. 

“We have put all of our local data into a predictive model that was developed at Northeastern University,” said Dr. Mark Edney, Chief of the Medical Staff at PRMC.

“This model includes our actual numbers on local surge capacity, both regular hospital beds and critical care beds, as well as our available material resources,” Edney said. “Importantly, it incorporates our real Covid experience in the region so far.

“Given our current state of resources — space, material, and human — our modeling suggests that our local surge over the next few weeks will tax our system but not exceed our critical capacities,” Edney said. 

PRMC officials remind everyone to continue practicing hand hygiene and to wash your hands vigorously and regularly with soap and water, avoid touching your face, practice social distancing and stay home as ordered by the governor. Anyone with Covid-19 questions, should call the Covid-19 hotline at 410-912-6889.

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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