Filled with sunlight and pictures of active people playing lacrosse, football and yoga, the Sports Center at Nemours/A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children also now features row after row of mobile hospital beds – a grim reminder of our nation’s worst health crisis in a century.
In just a matter of days, the facilities crew at the hospital cleared out everything in the sports medicine room, transforming the facility into one of Delaware’s three alternate care sites to help address the anticipated surge in the response to COVID-19.
The sports medicine gym is normally filled with physical therapy equipment for children, like bikes and treadmills as well as stretching and rehab equipment. There’s even a couple of basketball nets – holdovers from the days when the entire room was used as a basketball court for physicians and nurses at the hospital. It is located one floor below the main level and away from pediatric care.
Inside the gym, 38 beds line the floor’s surface – all six feet apart. Doctors and nurses will treat low-level care patients here – patients who generally can move around on their own but who might require oxygen, long term antibiotics that can’t be administered at home, or have other non-complex medical needs.
Nemours has also developed a second treatment area – an intensive care unit – for an additional overflow of more critical patients that will be situated across and separate from the pediatric intensive care unit. That room is comprised of 24 beds.
Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital plans to remain a completely COVID-negative site. In fact, prior to their transfer, every adult patient will be given a COVID-19 rapid test.
Delaware Emergency Management officials, who are developing their own projection models, now predict that the state could expect 560 hospitalizations at the virus’ peak on or about April 14th.
Dr. Christopher Raab, a pediatrician at the hospital, has overseen the entire logistical process of converting a gym into another ward of the hospital. He’s now the Director for the Adult Alternate Care Site at Nemours. “So, the trigger to need the beds is basically when whenever the adult hospitals reach capacity. Our hope is that we won’t be needed. But if we are, we’re ready to go,” he said.
Dr. Raab said that when DEMA and selected Nemours as an alternate care site, he and a team of logistics planners had to problem solve quickly. They started by asking themselves a variety of questions: How are we going to do this? What supplies do we need? What beds do we need? What kind of support staff do we need? What kind of patients can we take? What kind of patients can’t we take?
“Everybody came together as one. I’ve had doctors across the entire Delaware healthcare system reach out to me and offer suggestions and support — sending me articles and links to relevant information. It really has tied the medical community of Delaware together,” he said.
Nurses and physicians have been training on and off this week inside the low-level and acute care rooms at Nemours. Dr. Raab says the staffing would come from a mix of healthcare personnel and that by now everyone knows who might be called to serve at an alternate location.
“It really is a wonderful thing to see. The staffing is made up of nurses and medics from Nemours, ChristianaCare, and the Delaware National Guard.
“On the physician side, it’s residents and attendings from Nemours and attendings who work both at Christiana on the adult side and at Nemours on the pediatric side. We also have some people who have experience treating adults, who are just in our hospital system. And have twenty-four/seven video console access with the hospital group at Christiana,” he said.
The news coming out of the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) continues to worsen. DPH announced today nine additional fatalities related to coronavirus disease 2019, bringing the total to 32 deaths. There are 1,326 Delawareans who have been confirmed as test positive for the disease, 117 more than yesterday but 123 less than the number state health officials predicted for April 10th.
Pictures supplied by Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children