With 3,000 COVID-19 Cases Expected, DE Hospitals Ready Alternate Care Sites

Governor John Carney told reporters today that state expects nearly a quarter of all COVID-19 cases to require hospitalization. And with positive-test cases still jumping exponentially, hospitals are expected to have critical needs beyond their existing capacity.

At the briefing today, state health officials projected that Delaware could see 3,217 cases of coronavirus by April 12. There are currently 928 test-positive cases and 16 reported deaths statewide.

Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) Director A.J. Schall told reporters today the state is prepared for the expected surge in hospitalizations in the coming weeks, thanks to support from the National Guard and collaboration with the state hospital system.


“We are going on the assumption now that 20 percent of cases will need hospitalization,” said Schall.

Schall says this will mean “about 650 people in the hospitals” five days from now on April 12, when one model predicts a peak in COVID-19 cases.

“We need to make sure we are erring on the high side of these numbers,” Schall said while confirming that if cases continue at the expected rates, state hospitals will be prepared for the surge.


DEMA readies one hospital and a nursing home for COVID-19 overflow

Yesterday DEMA announced that the Governor Bacon Health Center will serve as an alternate care site to accommodate overflow patients from Delaware hospital systems. On Friday, officials announced that Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children would also be converted to an alternate care facility.

The Governor Bacon Health Center, the Department of Health and Social Services’ long-term care facility in Delaware City, has not been untouched by the coronavirus.

The facility must first undergo a deep cleaning before it can accept overflow patients from hospitals because one resident and three staff people there have been positively diagnosed with the coronavirus.


Rapid testing is underway

Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of the Delaware Division of Public Health, said today that the rapid tests have arrived and are in use. The state tested first responders on Sunday using the new rapid test kits, and the state plans to continue to use those tests for high-risk groups — like people in nursing homes — as well as healthcare and EMS workers who have been exposed to COVID-19. 

The results are generated in five to 15 minutes.

“The main purpose of this test is that it can allow us to identify if there’s an outbreak in a setting like a long term care setting or another residential or congregate setting. Obviously that’s really important,” said Dr. Rattay.


Governor Bacon residents in two units will be transferred over several days this week – along with their current staff – to the Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill (DHCI), another DHSS long-term facility in Smyrna. The residents from Governor Bacon will be placed in a separate unit at the DHCI campus, isolated from current residents of DHCI.

If all transferred residents clear the 14-day quarantine period, they will be integrated with the current residents of DHCI, said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician.


ChristianaCare ramps up with external emergency tents

As part of their preparation to meet the potential needs of our community through the pandemic, ChristianaCare erected tents on March 20th, outside the Christiana Hospital Emergency Department, the Wilmington Hospital Emergency Department and the Middletown Emergency Department.

The tents are designed to provide increased emergency department capacity if needed.

The clinical spaces within the tents feature chairs and basic medical equipment, such as blood pressure cuffs, pulse oximeters and thermometers. A ChristianaCare spokesperson said, “ChristianaCare is working closely with the state of Delaware and the other health systems in the state to ensure that we are ready to meet the health care needs of our community throughout this crisis.”


Mobile hospital to serve Sussex and Kent counties

DEMA and the State Health Operations Center also announced today the plan for a mobile hospital to serve as an alternate care site to support Kent and Sussex Counties.

The mobile hospital will be constructed with the help of the National Guard and will potentially treat 50-60 patients who do not have COVID-19. If the site is used for COVID-19 patients, that number would be reduced.

Officials said numerous buildings were surveyed as alternate care sites, however, proximity to existing health care facilities and the accompanying resources were crucial to being able to successfully treat patients.

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About the Contributor

Christy Fleming

Christy Fleming

The managing editor of TownSquareDelaware.com, Christy Fleming also supports a variety of non-profit initiatives in Delaware. Her background includes positions in public relations, advertising and journalism.