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Emergency Preparedness: COVID-19 & Emergency Care at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital

  • Category: COVID-19
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Emergency Preparedness: COVID-19 & Emergency Care at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital

Emergency preparedness has always been a priority at Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System (SVMHS). When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March, Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital was prepared and ready to activate its Emergency Response Plan.

“It really is an all hazards program. A pandemic is just one slice of that pie,” explains Robert Ferris, PhD, Emergency Preparedness Manager at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital. “We live in earthquake country, so we have a lot of different concerns, wildfires, public safety, and power shut off, to name a few.”

Within days of realizing the need to respond, tents were set up in the parking lot outside of the Emergency Department to isolate people who may be COVID-19 positive from the general population seeking emergency care in the ER.

“The tents are depressurized, with the three of them hooked together by an eight foot connecting vestibule,” Dr. Ferris said. “Each tent has its own self-contained climate control system and negative pressure unit built directly into it, essentially providing a biocontainment system.”

However before getting to those tents, a patient must first be screened at another nearby triage point when arriving on campus.

To listen to an interview with Robert Ferris, PhD the Emergency Preparedness Manager at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, click here.

“Everybody, including ambulance patients, get screened in the quick look tent before they come into the hospital or go to the ER,” explains Dr. Ferris.

It is also in the quick look tent, where medical personnel determine if that person will be sent to the tents for further evaluation or if they need to be hospitalized.

Another element of the SVMHS Emergency Preparedness Plan is to offer drive-through testing, which further reduces exposure risk. Patients stay in their vehicles and the process only takes a few minutes.

“It's all synchronized very well, it's working very well for us,” says Dr. Ferris.

The hospital has also set up a COVID-19 hotline so concerned citizens can speak to bilingual registered nurses, ask questions and undergo a pre-screening before coming to the hospital. The hotline phone number is 831-755-0793. If it is determined that individuals require care, they go through additional screening via the quick look tent when they arrive at the hospital.

Dr. Ferris ensures that the emergency department is fully operational and able to take in emergency cases such cardiac events, strokes or diabetes complications, to those needing emergency care after being involved in vehicle accidents. He stresses, if someone is having a medical emergency please come to the ER. Our physicians and nurses are here for you, it is a safe environment.

Dr. Ferris emphasizes he is amazed and inspired by all personnel who are going above and beyond providing compassionate care to patients. “Now that we have masks on, it's hard to see the smiles. But these folks smile all day long,” notes Dr. Ferris. “We know we are delivering the highest quality care you can get. It's a total team effort, and it goes back to all the previous planning and preparedness we have done.”