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PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center sets up triage tents for COVID-19 patients

PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center has set up five tents outside its campus to help safely and efficiently screen emergency department patients for COVID-19.

The plan is to direct suspected COVID-19 cases to tents, away from other emergency room patients, who aren’t presenting symptoms of COVID-19, or don’t have a known exposure to a case.

“We want to keep the healthy people in our community safe, while at the same time closely monitoring, and caring for those with respiratory illness,” said Dr. Jason Hanley, the emergency medical department director at PeaceHealth.

Hanley said PeaceHealth hopes to have off-site, standalone testing in the future, but the hospital can’t do something like that currently because there aren’t enough testing supplies available in Clark County.

Dr. Lawrence Neville, the chief medical officer at PeaceHealth, said this system will help keep patients safer because they will be separated from each other. Emergency department patients who aren’t suspected COVID-19 cases will go to the regular emergency department inside PeaceHealth.

A shortage of personal protection equipment, such as masks and gowns, has also made it challenging to keep medical providers safe, healthy and free from becoming spreaders of the virus to patients.

Vicki Guinn, a spokeswoman for Legacy Health, said Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center is setting up a triage tent system similar to PeaceHealth’s today .

“We are not ready to use it, but it’s in preparation for a surge of cases,” Guinn said in a telephone interview Friday.

Hanley and Neville said this tent system will help keep medical workers safe.

“We got to have a lot of emphasis to make sure our health care workers are protected,” Neville said. “They are humans and they are worried about their own families, they are putting all that aside and focused on the patient in front of them.”


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