All hands on deck! Barton prepares for possible surge in patients |

All hands on deck! Barton prepares for possible surge in patients

Barton Memorial Hospital.
Tribune file

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Although the number of positive COVID-19 cases has been slowly rising in El Dorado County, with only nine cases in the Lake Tahoe region for the last few days, Barton Health is preparing for a possible influx of cases.

Guidance from the California Department of Public Health, as well as national, state, and local health authorities recommends preparing for more cases, especially since even a little jump could overwhelm the small hospital.

“Similar to all California hospitals, Barton is working closely with our county health department to coordinate a regional response to COVID-19,” said Mindi Befu, Director of Public Relations in an email to the Tribune. “This response will allow regional hospitals to be prepared for a potential influx of patients.”

Barton has 63 acute beds, including nine in the Intensive Care Unit, and an additional 48 long-term care beds in Barton’s Skilled Nursing Facility. They are preparing to double their capacity.

“This capacity increase will result in approximately 138 total acute beds, with 25 intended for intensive care patients, and nine ventilators and six emergency rescue ventilators,” said Befu.

In addition to increasing capacity, the hospital is asking retired or available physicians, nurses, EMTs and other medical professionals with clinical expertise to work with the hospital.

Public health experts are expecting to see a shortage of healthcare workers as they become overworked or are exposed to the virus.

“We have a highly qualified team of staff and physicians in place but with a potential influx of patients exceeding our normal capacities we, just like all hospitals, will need additional resources,” said Dr. Clint Purvance, CEO of Barton Health in a press release.

Barton is continuing to modify operations in an attempt to protect staff and the community.

“We are offering new platforms for patient care including a COVID-19 Health Line (530-600-1999) referring potential COVID-19 patients to in-person care at locations specifically designed to test for COVID-19, as well as, offering virtual visits for many other health care needs,” said Befu. “Additionally, elective procedures have been postponed, visitation to the hospital has been restricted and screening of all patients and staff members, including a temperature check, takes place upon entering the hospital.”

They have also relocated several services out of the main complex, including Outpatient Rehabilitation Services, Barton Infusion, Cardiology, and Orthopedic services.

Still, an influx is not guaranteed and Barton is urging people to, “continue social distancing, wearing cloth masks in public and practicing good hand hygiene to help stay safe.”

As of Friday, El Dorado County has had 32 positive cases of the virus and 16 have recovered.

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