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ARH Middlesboro deploying respiratory triage tent

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 6:11 PM EDT
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MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (WYMT) - Janice Patton has been a nurse at Middlesboro Appalachian Regional Health for 24 years. The past two years, her focus has been COVID-19.

”It’s really encouraging to see everyone work together for the benefit of the people in this community and other areas,” she said.

Now, for the second time during the pandemic, conditions at the hospital have become dangerous, and crowded, enough to warrant a respiratory triage tent.

People who arrive the Emergency Department with respiratory issues will be sent to this open-air tent for initial screening. If it’s determined they need to be admitted, they will receive a fast COVID-19 test, and receive treatment accordingly.

“If we can do as much testing out here as we can, as opposed to inside, it does expedite the patient-care process,” said Michael Slusher, Community CEO of Middlesboro ARH Hospital.

Slusher hopes that the outdoor facility will help avoid capacity problems inside.

Frontline workers like Patton have been managing the changing conditions of the pandemic the best they can.

”I know that we’ve had a surge recently,” Patton said. “I’m hearing that we will have a peak and then there will be another surge. So, we just have to work with what comes.”

Despite the triage tent, Slusher remains concerned about hitting capacity numbers because of the speed of the spread of the Delta Varaint.

”We’ve done it much quicker and at a much steeper trajectory,” he explained. “We’re seeing much younger patients and much sicker patients in this way than opposed to last year.”

Slusher said there are 187 patients in the ARH system with COVID as of Wednesday and 95 percent of them are unvaccinated.

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