‘Beyond full’: Moses Cone Hospital working to ‘create capacity’ amid influx of COVID-19 patients

Piedmont Triad News

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations is putting a strain on hospitals across the Piedmont Triad.

“At this moment, we are full,” said Moses Cone Memorial Hospital President Preston Hammock. “Beyond full, and we have more patients that are waiting in our emergency departments for capacity to open up and that’s how it’s been now for about a week and a half.”

As of midnight Thursday, the hospital had 130 COVID-19 patients. Hammock expects to see that number hit 200 over the next seven to 10 days. He believes that number could reach 250 or more, about the same as the peak that the hospital saw in January.

“This increase has happened very fast, and we expect it to continue,” Hammock said. “So, many of the changes we’re putting in place are things we learned over the wintertime in preparation for earlier surges but we’re having to put them in place much more quickly.”

“Donning” and “doffing” rooms are where staff will put on and remove their PPE in a safe environment. (Courtesy of Cone Health)
“Donning” and “doffing” rooms are where staff will put on and remove their PPE in a safe environment. (Courtesy of Cone Health)

Cone Health is working to group COVID-19 patients into units dedicated to treating COVID-19 across the company’s hospitals in Triad, including Moses Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, Wesley Long Hospital in Greensboro, Alamance Regional Medical Center in Burlington and Annie Penn Hospital in Reidsville.

“We are having to create capacity in order to accommodate COVID-19 positive patients,” Hammock said. “That’s why you see us take steps such as canceling surgical cases that we’ve announced earlier this week.”

Hammock said that the fifth floor of the hospital has its own air handler system which allows the hospital to create a negative pressure environment. This made it a prime candidate for a COVID-19 unit.

The hospital was able to take similar steps in other units as well.

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