Hospitals looking at protocols in place for tropical systems in the midst of coronavirus

VIDEO: Hospitals looking at protocols in place for tropical systems in the midst of coronavirus

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Three months into hurricane season and with the most active months still ahead, hospitals around the Lowcountry are not only getting their response plans in place but also figuring out how to deal with a tropical system in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s nothing new for hospitals to prepare for a storm but, this year, there’s an added variable.

“I don’t want people clustering tightly in small spaces,” MUSC Health Chief Operating Officer Tom Crawford said.

Ahead of Isaias, his teams already had plans in motion for what it would look like if they had to shelter in place.

“We know that I need seven days of food, I want seven days of fuel, I need blood products, I need oxygen. We have it all on checklists,” Crawford said. “So we’re really a well refined machine when it comes to riding out the storm.”

Crawford said the biggest thing they had to work through was the sleeping accommodations for care team members.

“The good news for us is that we actually have some vacant spaces right now,” Crawford said. “An example is Rutledge Tower which is a large empty building during a hurricane because it’s the ambulatory presence. So I can actually hotel people there in individual rooms. That works to our advantage.”

Meanwhile at Roper St. Francis Healthcare, doctors there say they’re rethinking a good many of their hurricane protocols because of COVID including how they take care of patients and when.

“We will be triaging patients according to acuity of illnesses also according to their virus status,” Dr. Mitch Siegan, Roper’s Chief Medical Officer, said. “We’re considering putting all the patients who are infected with COVID in one particular hospital so as to truly isolate those patients and keep them free from all the other patients that we’re taking care of at the other two hospitals that would continue to stand up during the storm.”

Siegan says they are prepared. They’re also looking at how others are staying safe.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to even learn creatively from looking at others outside the healthcare system,” Siegan said. “Looking at areas such as the NFL and the NBA and seeing how they’re keeping their players free of the virus and still able to open up their season. We’re learning from those experiences, learning from the bubbles that they’ve created, creating our own bubbles, not only for our teammates and our physicians, but also for our patients.”

Doctors say they are expecting another surge of the virus in addition to possibly having more hurricanes. So they are continuing to look at both protocols.

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