Triage tent in place at Blue Ridge Regional

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A triage tent is now setup outside the emergency department at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital. (Submitted)

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SPRUCE PINE – Mission Health is moving forward with standing up tents at its hospitals to create additional capacity for triaging patients outside of emergency departments, should it become necessary as the COVID-19 outbreak evolves. The tent at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine was put in place Friday, April 10. 

“All Mission Health facilities have well-established protocols in place to care for patients with infectious diseases, and our emergency planning efforts related to COVID-19 began weeks ago,” said Greg Lowe, president of the North Carolina Division of HCA Healthcare. “While Mission Health has the bed capacity, staffing, supplies and equipment we need at this time, we continue to plan by accessing the resources, support and best practices across HCA Healthcare to help ensure we remain able to meet the needs of the communities we serve as this situation continues to evolve.” 

The tents are part of Mission’s standard emergency planning protocols and are a precaution at this time. Over the coming days, Mission will conduct training exercises and drills in the tents, allowing caregivers to become comfortable in the environment should the tents need to become operational. 

“Over the coming days and weeks, you may see our caregivers conducting these exercises within these tents,” Lowe said. “It’s important to know we have not yet seen widespread transmission of COVID-19 at this point in our community or a surge in our hospitals. This is an ongoing process to ensure we’re able to provide safe, compassionate care for those we serve.”

Lowe recognized residents in local communities are feeling fear and uncertainty during this time. 

“While it is impossible to know for certain how this unprecedented outbreak will affect our communities in the coming weeks, we are learning effective strategies from other HCA Healthcare divisions across the country already seeing escalated outbreaks and implementing those for our community,” he said. “Mission Health is supportive of Gov. Cooper’s Stay-at-Home order as a way everyone can contribute to protecting the safety of our communities and our medical providers.”

Mission will continue to monitor the situation and work closely in partnership with local and state health departments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.