Kevin Cody

Providence Little Company, Torrance Memorial pitch tents in preparation for coronavirus surge

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Fernando Padilla of K-9 Protective Services, and Alex Lemus, RN Assistant, welcome patients to the Providence Little Company of Mary Emergency Department. Photo by Faye Dedd

by Kevin Cody

Among the most visible signs in the South Bay of the anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases are large white tents outside the emergency departments at Providence Little Company of Mary and  Providence San Pedro, and Torrance Memorial Medical Center.

Little Company of Mary has two tents. One is for assessing patients, the second is for physician examinations, said Jeremy Baker, Providence’s Executive Director of Quality and Patient Safety.

As of Tuesday, Little Company had not seen a surge in emergency room patients, Baker said. Because of medical confidentiality laws, he said he cannot disclose whether or not the hospital has received patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Tents at Providence Little Company of Mary have been set up in anticipation of a surge of coronavirus patients.

Baker said patients who come to his Emergency Department with routine medical needs will be directed to the Emergency Department. Patients exhibiting flu-like systems will be directed to the receiving tent, where they will be questioned by a registered nurse. After being assessed, the patient will be directed to the examination tent where physicians will decide if the patient should be admitted to the hospital or their condition can be safely managed at home.

Presently, Little Company cannot test for the novel coronavirus. Patients whose symptoms include a high fever and respiratory infections or who have traveled to a country where the virus is widespread, will be swabbed and their swabs will be sent to the Los Angeles County Department of Health for testing.

Test results are taking four to seven days to be returned.

Patients whose symptoms don’t meet the County’s testing criteria, but whom doctors believe should be tested, will have their swabs sent to either LabCorp or Quest, the only local, private labs able to test for COVID-19.

Providence Little Company has 15 isolation rooms and Providence San Pedro has eight isolation rooms with full negative pressure functionality. All of the hospitals’ private patient rooms have contact and droplet precautions that meet Center for Disease Control guidelines, Baker said. ER

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