CMC puts triage tents back up as number of COVID-19 patients increase dramatically

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 5:35 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2021 at 10:17 AM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) – The COVID-19 tents at Conway Medical Center are going back up.

Crews started the process of putting up the tents on Tuesday.

CMC spokesperson Allyson Floyd said that patient loads have increased dramatically over the past few weeks, and the tents will help alleviate the patient load in the ER department.

Currently, the hospital has 27 COVID-positive patients, 11 of which are in ICU and six are on ventilators. Floyd said that of the 27 COVID patients, 23 are not vaccinated.

She said the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control inspected the tents and said that between 24-26 patients will be allowed in them.

Floyd explained that the front tent will be used for triage. Then if a patient is COVID positive and they need further treatment, they will go to the next tent over unless it’s medically necessary for the patient to be inside the hospital.

The hospital hopes to start using the tents this weekend.

The tents were first put up in March 2020 and were just recently taken down in May of this year due to the low number of COVID-19 cases.

“This is the truth. This is the reality,” said Conway Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Paul Richardson. “We’ve seen a significant increase in our number of admissions.”

At one point in June, Conway Medical Center got as low as one COVID hospitalization, a stark contrast to June 2020, when the hospital saw as many as 56 one day.

But when Richardson saw that number hit 30 earlier this week, he had to reluctantly make a hard decision.

“We felt like, given those numbers, the safest course for our patients and staff would be to move our triage area back into our tents like we had before,” said Richardson.

He is holding out hope the sight of the tents will lead to more vaccinations.

“I hope this is kind of a reality jolt for a lot of folks to say, ‘Hey, I’ve got to come and get vaccinated,’” said Richardson.

Conway Medical Center is only offering vaccinations twice a week right now, but Richardson said they’d love to add more days if the demand picks up.

He said that while the tents are an unfortunate sight, a silver lining is that they have seen a steady increase in vaccinations over the past few days.

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