Coronavirus COVID-19

Peninsula Regional Health System is taking major steps to protect patient safety and conserve resources. Across the system, surgeries will be canceled that are considered elective or non-emergency, starting on Monday, March 23, as a part of the overall strategy to conserve and direct resources to the highest areas of need while preparing for a possible COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak in the region. This effects Peninsula Regional Medical Center (PRMC) in Salisbury, Md., and Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford.

Not every surgery will stop on Monday, but means all surgeries will be evaluated, and those that can be canceled will be. Patients will be notified ahead of time.

The medical staff will determine which surgeries will be canceled, and when, using criteria that similar to that of other hospital systems, with guidance from the American College of Surgeons.

“Delaying elective surgeries — those that are not urgent — is a tactic that most hospitals around the country have or will use to achieve two goals during this crisis,” said Mark Edney, MD, president of the PRMC medical staff. “First, delaying surgeries that are not urgent or emergent saves supplies, personnel and other resources that are needed to be used for those sickened by the virus. Second, it reduces unnecessary exposure of community members to the hospital environment when they don’t absolutely need to be here.

“We are sensitive to the need to balance the community need for these important but non-emergent surgeries with the need to conserve resources and minimize unnecessary exposure to the hospital environment. When implemented on Monday, it will be for a two-week timeframe and then re-evaluated on a rolling basis (with potential to extend the timeframe) so that we can deactivate the policy as soon as it is safe based on real-time data on viral spread and the hospital’s ongoing experience in treating affected community members.”

Patients with questions should call their surgeon’s office to verify whether their surgery is still going forward.

Both hospitals also have restrictions on visitors.

Portable hospital unit opens on March 20

PRMC has erected a 20-bed inflatable portable hospital on its Salisbury campus. The unit, which is self-contained and features heat and air conditioning, is stocked with basic medical supplies and 20 cots. PRMC intends to use the regional medical station for patient overflow and surge control for a variety of conditions,, including the seasonal flu and COVID-19.

“We’re placing the mobile regional medical station on our campus adjacent to the Emergency Department, which allows us to maintain a state of readiness in the event our region experiences the need to expand either Emergency Department or inpatient bed capacity,” said Sarah Arnett, DNP, Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer at PRMC. “Staffing will be in alignment with the needs of the population we are caring for in the mobile medical station.”

The tent measures 22 feet wide and 70 feet long and is wind rated up to 70 miles per hour. It can be easily dismantled and reconstructed in about 45 minutes at a different location if needed.

This is different from the triage tent that PRMC set up on March 17 to help screen hospital visitors with potential COVID-19 symptoms.

The Delmarva Regional Healthcare Mutual Aid Group (DRHMAG) originally purchased the tent. The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is responsible for its deployment. PRMC worked with Wicomico County Health Officer Lori Brewster, who made the official request through MEMA, to bring it to Salisbury.

As a regional asset, it is available to other hospitals and agencies on the Eastern Shore, and it could be activated as a mobile hospital in response to any emergency or mass casualty event.

Responsibility for the mobile hospital now transfers to PRMC. It is the only inflatable regional medical station on the Eastern Shore.

Details are online at www.prmc.org.