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Local hospitals prepared for possible increase in COVID-19 patients

Health leaders watching data closely
Posted at 5:26 PM, Oct 16, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS — It may be quiet outside two major hospitals in central Indiana, but inside, health leaders are hard at work. They are keeping a close eye on the number of COVID-19 cases and creating plans to make sure they can safely and effectively care for anyone who may need it.

"Based on what we learned from the spring when we sort of had this first surge, we were prepared at that time for an large volume of patients,” said Liz Linden, chief nursing officer for IU Health Methodist and University Hospital.

She said as of right now, they are not seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients downtown.

“What we continue to do is watch the data around COIVD-19 and throughout the state. In different counties it is highly variable,” Linden said.

Head a little south to Franciscan Health Hospital on the south side of Indianapolis, and they are seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients.

“In the past couple weeks we have definitely seen an uptick. We were down to a pretty low level about two weeks ago, we have more than doubled since then our in-patient count of COVID patients,” said Christopher Doehring, vice president of medical affairs at Franciscan Health.

The good news is, he says the number of people requiring a ventilator has not increased and most patients are not getting as critically ill as others were earlier in the pandemic.

He said the hospital does see a major sure in patients or severe cases, they will be ready.

“Whether we need to cohort patients, dedicate specific units for the exclusive use of COVID, we've created a lot of extra rooms that have negative airflow capabilities," Doehring said. "We have certainly stockpiled more PPE to prepare for a surge, significant surge if we get one."

IU Health leaders said they are prepared as well

“What we're doing downtown at the Methodist and University Hospital campuses is looking at the space we have available and making sure we can convert them at any time to be whatever level of care or whatever types of space we need,” Linden said.

She said they have also looked at sourcing additional staffing.

Both hospitals have continued to learn more about the virus and the best way to treat COVID-19 patients.

“They’re actually staying about one day less than they did in the spring so we've been able to apply those learnings and we feel much more confident in our ability to know as things come in what to do, how to treat them, and how to handle them,” Linden said.