Witham prepares for COVID-19 scenarios

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Officials from Witham Health Services, the primary hospital system in Boone County, said it has plans to respond to a possible surge of COVID-19 patients.

Witham has 26 ICU beds that have been dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients, Witham Health Services Marketing and Public Relations Director Mary Beth Searles said. To date, the hospital hasn’t needed use many of those beds, Searles said.

As of press time, Boone County had reported 29 positive cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. According to the Indiana State Dept. of Health, no county resident has died from the disease.

The hospital has activated a full-capacity management plan that includes converting out-patient beds into in-patient beds to expand capacity. It also has established a respiratory fast-track unit that can screen patients before they get to the hospital.

In addition to the 25 beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients, Searles said the hospital transitioned 18 beds from its geriatric site into ICU beds that are not delineated for treating COVID-19 patients, creating an intensive care unit.

Searles said the hospital has not, at this time, been declared a facility that must focus all its resources on treating the disease. But if that should happen, he said the hospital could have up to 74 beds set aside as COVID-19 beds. In that event, the hospital and county officials would look to use the Boone County 4-H Fairgrounds as an additional site to treat patients.

County officials said the fairgrounds, as a precaution, have been prepped for the possibility. It would only require 36-hours to finish final preparations before the space could be utilized.

“We are not anywhere close to that point right now,” Searles said.


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