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KSB Hospital Develops Surge Plan to Prep for the Next Stages of COVID-19

Healthcare leaders at Katherine Shaw Bethea Hospital in Dixon, Ill. have prepared a plan to repurpose existing hospital facilities to create additional triage space, emergency treatment areas, and inpatient beds in case regular services are overwhelmed by a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Preparing for responses to disasters, including potential epidemics and pandemics (e.g., H1N1, Swine Flu, Ebola), is not new for hospitals. Emergency preparedness training is a year-round activity that is done within each facility, system, region, and across the state. Normally, when local hospital facilities are overwhelmed during a medical emergency, KSB would transfer patients to larger surrounding communities. With the current pandemic, that option may not be viable.

The COVID-19 situation became increasingly concerning in early March. Wes Shaw, a KSB Physician Assistant in the Orthopedic Clinic and retired Air Force Medical Officer with a background that focused on medical readiness, took the lead in putting together the hospital’s surge plan. During this time period, elective surgery cases were being postponed, including orthopedics out-patient procedures. This allowed Shaw to step away from normal duties and volunteer in the Emergency Department (ED) to help with the anticipated influx of COVID-19 patients. He quickly teamed up with KSB’s emergency preparedness coordinator Doug Sears, retired Reserve Army Medical Corp Officer Dr. Robb Rydzynski, and Medical Director of KSB Emergency Room Dr. Jonathan Ortman to work on the surge plan. Teams were put together throughout the hospital to discuss how this medical crisis would affect the hospital’s systems and how KSB was going to amp up the expansion of their capabilities.

Officials at KSB say that as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise across Lee and Ogle Counties, KSB Hospital has a plan in place to set up alternative care sites to handle high demands on their systems. The three areas where there could be shortages are space to care for patients, supplies, and staff. KSB Hospital’s surge plan addresses each need. The surge plan is designed in four stages to address additional patient care needs should COVID-19 infections result in an overcapacity of the hospital system.

Stage I is already available on an everyday basis for episodic surges in catastrophic situations such as tornadoes, multiple-vehicle crashes, etc.

Stage II involves expanding in three areas. The creation of another emergency room, increased inpatient capacity, and using a fast track for some emergency room patients. The new wound care clinic and infusion center, now housed in the Annex, will be put into service to handle the increase in “walk-in patients”. Single occupancy hospital rooms will be converted to double occupancy at this stage.

Stage III continues the expansion of inpatient services by putting beds in the former ICU area, Home Health Care offices, and sun porch. Staffing issues are good through this stage by pulling from KSB’s outpatient clinics such as Oregon, Towne Square Center, Amboy, and Polo.

Stage IV is the expansion of services to Commerce Towers to be used for more COVID wards, staff housing, etc.

“At this time, it has been determined that KSB doesn’t have the supplies or staffing to use Commerce Towers,” remarks Shaw. “However, an outside agency such as FEMA or an emergency state agency would be able to use the space, providing they have the resources to do so.”

Sarah Roach, KSB nurse and quality and safety officer, reports that the long-term care facility in Amboy, formerly known as Maple Crossing, has loaned 57 beds to KSB. Momentum Healthcare owns the facility, along with those in Oregon, Franklin Grove, and Shabbona. Dana Payton, regional director of operations at these facilities, assisted with procuring the beds. They are stored at Commerce Towers, ready to be put into service when necessary.

Wes Shaw said that KSB’s surge plan is ready to go and to keep going as the pandemic progresses. “KSB will continue educating and informing the staff and public on our surge plans with daily update meetings. KSB jumped on this early and has been very forward-thinking in developing this plan”. Linda Clemen, R.N., KSB’s chief nursing officer, and David Schreiner, KSB president/CEO, really had the forethought to let us run with this plan,” comments Shaw.

An added service for the community since October 2019 is “KSB Care Anywhere.” Located on the KSB website, this service is for anyone concerned that they may have been exposed or in contact with COVID-19. It can also be used for anyone not feeling well from other ailments, but don’t want to leave home for their doctor’s office at this time. By logging on and filling out a screening questionnaire, the clinical team will determine the most appropriate level of care without an appointment.