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Hospitals prepare for influx of COVID-19 patients, fear the unknown

Posted at 10:13 PM, Nov 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-11 23:22:39-05

BALTIMORE — Hospitals across the state are hoping months of work putting together surge plans will be enough to fight off the virus that is once again ramping up across the country.

In Maryland, more than 1700 people tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, making it the eighth straight day the state reported more than a thousand cases. Hospitalizations also topped 800, reaching levels not seen since mid-June.

Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, who is a critical care physician at Johns Hopkins hospital said the hospital has been stockpiling supplies such as PPE and other resources for months. He said they used the first wave of COVID-19 cases as a lesson to get ahead of the fall surge.

“A lot of the preparations are in regards to what accommodations we make to the hospital to allow more room for the sickest patients," he said. “We are adequately prepared to handle a large volume of patients.”

Dr. Thomas Scalea, who works as the physician-in-chief at the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma in Baltimore, also said the spring wave will help hospitals respond better to the fall surge because of improved treatment options that should assist in speeding up the recovery time.

He said the University of Maryland Medical Center has prepared for a number of different scenarios and is ready for the challenge, but he worries about surge being much worse than they predicted.

“My biggest concern is the uncertainty," he said. "Just not knowing what’s going to happen.”

Bob Atlas, who is the president of Maryland Hospital Association, says the convention center which now serves as a field hospital in Baltimore and reopened hospitals in Tacoma Park and Laurel will be able to help with high volume of patients, but he notes a critical factor moving forward, which is dealing with the nationwide shortage of nurses.

"Because we can’t manufacture them on an assembly line," he said. "And we need everybody to be available.”

But as we all continue to battle the virus, Dr. Galiatsatos is urging Marylanders to stay vigilant to control the spread.

"You are all the frontline. Help us by helping yourselves," he said.