Parkland Hospital says it has noticed more patients coming in with respiratory symptoms as they continue to prepare for more possible cases of COVID-19.
Chief Clinical Officer, Dr. Roberto de la Cruz, said it's been a lot of work getting ready.
“We’re doing fine. We’ve been working very hard to prepare for COVID-19," de la Cruz said. "We’re tired, but we’ve been working very hard as a group and doing the best we can.”
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The hospital said it currently has 118 ventilators and de la Cruz said they are currently working with suppliers to get more personal protective equipment, like masks, for the hospital.
"The staff is concerned, and so am I about PPE supply," de la Cruz expressed.
He said there is currently not enough supply nationally and they're doing what they can to conserve equipment.
"You use it daily and so you constantly need to replenish it, so we’re not in an emergency situation, but everybody is in an urgency situation," de la Cruz said.
He said that is part of the reason why they stopped all non-emergency procedures and surgeries. It's also so they can increase the amount of space they have, just in case there is a spike of COVID-19 cases.
According to Parkland, the hospital is licensed for 882 beds and could add an additional 350 to 400 beds.
“This is a new hospital and so this hospital was planned with crisis in mind. So we have the capacity, in theory, to double every hospital room and to put patients there," de la Cruz explained. “So we have mapped out areas in the hospital in which we have enough staff and enough availability to do that, and we have started to think of creative ways and locations in which patients that may be needing ICU level of care can be moved."
They've asked patients not to come in unless it's an emergency. Parkland is encouraging telemedicine for those who many need a prescription refill. The goal, to limit the amount of foot traffic in the hospital.
“The surge, we’re trying to mitigate it, so we’re asking the population to actually heed the health care warnings and the civic warnings and to stay at home. So everybody should be staying at home unless they need to be somewhere to do an essential task and that includes health care providers," de la Cruz said.
Health care providers at Parkland who are not immediately needed at the hospital have been asked to work at home.
When it comes to testing, Parkland still has it's drive-thru location on Medical District Drive, but, it's only for current patients, staff and first responders who have COVID-19 symptoms.
"We do that by telephone, so there’s a phone number in which you can call and make an appointment, you will get a virtual visit on the phone, and you will get an appointment to come to one of the testing sites," de la Cruz explained about testing for those in the Parkland system.
“In addition, the city and the county have collaborated with some federal resources to open two additional testing sites that are available also in the county and those are widely available, not just for Parkland patients, but for the community if they have symptoms as well and fever," de la Cruz said.
Those testing sites are at the American Airlines Center and at Ellis Field House.
De la Cruz said he just wants people to stay at home, wash their hands and keep their distance.
"The recommendation is the same from the CDC. If you’re sick stay at home, even if you have COVID-19, stay at home, unless you need to be in the hospital," de la Cruz said. "So, if you test positive for COVID-19 you will get a referral for the Dallas County Health Epidemiology Department."