DCH OPERATING OFFICER: ‘ASSUME EVERYONE HAS THE VIRUS’

There is a ton of pressure on the DCH Health System during the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, April 1, there were 30 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Tuscaloosa. DCH is treating many of these cases.

“As of yesterday, we had six individuals with confirmed COVID-19 being treated in our facilities,” DCH Health System chief operating officer Paul Betz said. “This morning, that number has condensed to, five or fewer individuals with confirmed COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU or on a ventilator.”

Betz said on Tuesday that the hospital received 22 new ventilators and are currently being assembled to be used starting next week. With these new ventilators, both DCH campuses will have 82 ventilators on site. Betz said 29 ventilators are being used by patients currently.

“So we’re on the high end of our average, but certainly well within our capacity,” Betz said.

Overall, DCH has confirmed 19 cases of the coronavirus. These positive tests come from the testing site, emergency room or triage tents. Betz said not all of the confirmed COVID-19 patients are being treated at the hospital. DCH reported 676 negative tests.

“Here’s what people need to continue to think: Assume that everyone has this virus,” Betz said. “Stay away from others, wash your hands for 20 seconds, avoid touching your face, regularly touched surfaces, and if you have symptoms – especially fever, trouble breathing, and chest congestion – call your doctor or come get tested.”

Like many medical facilities across the country, DCH has a low supply of N95 masks and face shields.

“Fortunately, the state sent us a shipment of N95 masks, so that has helped,” Betz said. “We’re working to regulate the supply and are following the CDC guidelines for mask use and addressing issues as they come up.”

On Wednesday, DCH implemented a universal masking policy, meaning if you enter a DCH facility, you will be provided with a surgical mask and you must wear it.

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