GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Hospitals are doing all they can to increase their capacity to treat the surging number of COVID-19 patients.
Singing River Health System is working to triple the number of negative pressure isolation rooms that are essential to treat patients with contagious diseases like the novel coronavirus.
“The concept of an isolation room which is where we treat patients such as COVID require negative pressure,” said SRHS Director of Facilities Support Randall Cobb. “Which simply means we’re pulling the air in from outside in the corridor, bringing it into the room and exhausting outside. And we exhaust through a HEPPA filter, so it’s almost 99 percent efficient.”
The air in each room changes 12 times every hour.
“This makes it safe for our patients and makes sure it’s safe for the staff who’s working with the patients,” said Cobb.
The hospital took advantage of a CARES Act grant administered through the state health department.
“We’re using them specifically to create negative pressure isolation rooms we have to take care of COVID patients or infectious patients that need that type of room to help our hospital capacity for Jackson and Harrison County.” said Tiffany Murdock, Singing River Gulfport Hospital’ administrator.
Singing River was concerned about their two hospitals in Jackson County and in Harrison County nearing capacity to treat infectious diseases. The current wave of COVID-19 cases means the increase of negative-pressure isolation rooms, which comes at a critical time.
“With today’s climate of the increase of COVID patients population, it allows our three hospitals to service,” said Cobb. “Now we’ll be up to 127 rooms capable of serving our community.”
When the pandemic began, Singing River Health System had to bring in extra equipment to provide 42 rooms with the safety feature.
“It’s a huge increase for us,” Murdock said. “And they’re all the way from emergency room beds to ICU to our med-surge tele beds, so it allows us to take care of many different levels of acuity of patients as well.”
Hospital officials said while they will be able to treat more patients, it would be better to prevent spread by wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding crowds.
The work being paid for with $1.2 million of CARES Act money is being done by local contractors and is expected to be complete by mid-December.