Rush Foundation Hospital sets up emergency department triage tent

Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star

Jessica McDaniel, right, a family nurse practitioner, works inside a triage tent with other registered nurses from Rush Health Systems Tuesday in the parking lot of their emergency room area in Meridian.

Rush Foundation Hospital has set up a triage tent outside its emergency department to quickly assess the care patients will need, as cases of COVID-19 increase in Lauderdale County. 

Trained greeters will determine whether a patient should be seen inside or outside the ER, said Dr. Patrick Kirkland, medical director of the hospital's emergency department. 

If it's determined treatment should be done outside the ER, the patient will be evaluated, diagnosed and given discharge and return precautions. 

Doctors will be available by video conference and in person, if needed, he said.  

Rush Foundation Hospital sets up emergency department triage tent

Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star

 

Elliott Duff, a security guard with Rush Health Systems stands prepared to direct traffic into the parking lot Tuesday.

“Our thought is patients with respiratory symptoms can be evaluated in some cases outside the ER to decrease our pathogens coming into the hospital, to also keep some of the other patients with other types of emergencies away from some of the infectious illnesses, so we’re able to evaluate those patients before they come into the ER,” Kirkland said. 

Rush's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Fred Duggan, said the hospital has been working on contigency plans for COVID-19. 

“We are ready, at this point, for everything we foresee coming in the next couple weeks,” he said. “We’re not doing elective cases so we have a lot more beds available and so we’re able to use those beds as needed to take care of the public as the need arises.”

While the hospital currently has adequate personal protective equipment for its staff, it is welcoming donations. 

“I think everybody’s anxious and a little nervous, but around here, the morale is high. This is what we’re called to do in this job. I think most of the people here feel like their job’s a calling and we’re really upbeat and energized and we’re ready to answer the call.”

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