Global Provides Bedside Tables to COVID-19 Emergency Field Hospital in New Orleans
COVID-19 | April 09, 2020 | Ramon Antonio Vargas
As the number of coronavirus cases in Louisiana continued their ascent on Saturday, crews rushed to put the finishing touches on a makeshift, 1,000-bed hospital inside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, scheduled to open Monday to ease the strain on area hospitals.
The capacity of the field hospital — being built in a matter of days — can be increased to 2,000 beds by the end of April if necessary, demonstrating the sheer magnitude of the crisis posed by the COVID-19 virus.
Standing in a convention hall housing a football field’s worth of white tents, nurses’ stations and portable handwashing basins, Assistant State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter cast a quick glance around and said, “How great would it be if we didn’t need half this?”
The number of state residents stricken with COVID-19 jumped Saturday to 12,946, an increase of about 2,200 from the previous day. The New Orleans area continues to be the epicenter of the outbreak in Louisiana, with 3,966 known cases and 154 deaths reported out of Orleans Parish.
The number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital and on life-saving ventilator machines was higher than Friday: 1,726 and 571, respectively. Those will not alleviate the state’s concerns about a looming shortage in hospital bed space and ventilators, though officials announced Saturday that Louisiana would receive an additional 200 ventilators from the national stockpile.
Keeping bed space in New Orleans area hospitals as ample as possible is where the makeshift hospital at the convention center comes in.
The pop-up facility — which is costing more than $90 million to build, equip and staff, largely through a contractor — is meant to treat COVID-19 patients who no longer need acute treatment at a hospital but still require care they can’t get at home, said Dr. Meghan Maslanka, the site’s medical operations manager.
Such patients — who need a hospital referral to be admitted — will be treated and observed in tent rooms that are about the size of backyard sheds.
Arranged in pods of 14, covering the length and width of a series of convention halls, the isolation tents are air-conditioned but sparsely furnished. Besides a bed, pillow and blanket, there’s a folding chair, a TV tray and an office-style telephone. There’s also an electric outlet, a small potted plant, an IV stand and other medical supplies that may be of use for an around-the-clock staff including nurses, nurse practitioners, doctors, respiratory therapists, social workers and pharmacists.
During a tour of one of the pods Saturday, a fishbowl-style surveillance camera looked over a nurses’ station and a common space outside the tents. Framed posters with inspirational quotes hung outside some of the tents awaiting patients.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning how to dance in the rain,” read one attributed to Vivian Greene. Nearby are Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous words: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
In a parking lot across the street, crews and construction vehicles were in the late stages of standing up a small village of double-wide trailers containing rooms to temporarily house people who were tested at hospitals for COVID-19 and need an isolated place to await their results.
While the field hospital should be ready for admissions Monday, officials don’t expect many to be arriving until the days after, Kanter said.
*This article was originally published in Nola.com
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