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Capital Regional Medical Center Remains Ready In Case Of Covid-19 Surge

Tom Flanigan
Capital Regional Medical Center

Florida's rate of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 is low. The projected "surge" in cases predicted early on has not emerged. And Capital Regional Medical Center Chief Nursing Officer Ann Smith hopes it stays that way. Still, the hospital is ready, just in case.

"We have not seen a surge yet. We still anticipate there possibly could be one, but nothing like the magnitude we discussed five weeks ago."

Five weeks ago, the state was bracing for hospitals to be overrun with patients. And Smith said that's when the Capital Regional's preparations really got underway.

"We actually started five, nearly six weeks ago, seven days a week preparing for this. Some of it is in regards to equipment and some is in regards to staffing."

That preparation involved purchasing more supplies, like personal protective equipment and drawing up staffing and patient contingency plans.

"The number of ventilators that we had, the cardiac monitoring capability that we had. We really had to look at all kinds of equipment, particularly if we were going to go into those non-traditional areas to ensure that we had what we'd normally have in our critical care area," said Chief Nursing Officer Lori Sumner.

Having plenty of equipment doesn't mean much if sufficient numbers of hospital staff aren't trained and ready to use it.

"We have taken staff from other areas, like the emergency department and surgical services, which is not seeing elective surgeries, and really started cross-training all of that staff to do a type of team nursing that would allow us to actually quadruple our ICU capacity. Right now we have 20 critical care beds and we were anticipating going close to 80 critical care patients if we needed to," said Smith.

More critical care patients mean more stress on staff. The hospital also beefing up its ability to care for the caregivers.

"We have our Employee Assistance Program that's available to all of our employees. We also have a specific Nurse Care Program available 24/7 for our nursing staff," said Sumner.

Still, the consensus at both of Tallahassee's large, full-service hospitals is that all the preparations they've been making to handle a sudden surge of coronavirus patients won't be needed at all.

Updated: May 1, 2020 at 6:22 PM EDT