Hospital in Hot Springs builds temporary ER for COVID-19 patients

CHI St. Vincent in Hot Springs is building a temporary emergency department to prepare for a possible influx of COVID-19 patients following the holidays.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — A Hot Springs hospital is building a temporary emergency department to prepare for a possible influx of COVID-19 patients following the holidays.

Over the past several weeks, CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs has seen periods where the ER department is flooded with COVID patients.

“Sometimes patients show up all at the same time,” Dr. Douglas Ross said.

To help with this, an additional temporary emergency department is being set up outside. COVID patients will instead go here if the original ER is full.

“It allows us to more quickly assess those patients with COVID symptoms and get those patients to an appropriate location in our emergency department and keep them separated from our non-covid emergency patients,” Dr. Ross said.

Dr. Douglas Ross is the president of CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs. He said this set-up will only be used on a case by case basis.

“Some days we won’t need it, some days we might need it,” he said.

He said in the past two weeks, there have been a couple of days where the hospital could’ve used this additional space. They were still able to take care of everyone, but this is what prompted the idea.

“We are just happy that if the numbers of covid patients start to go down and we never need this, that is fine by us but we want to be prepared,” Dr. Ross said.

But Dr. Ross worries cases may go up again following the holidays. If that’s the case, he says the department will be ready to handle it.

“It’s there when we need it and those periods of time where the ER volumes drop to a more manageable level, we won’t need it,” he said.