Despite peaking coronavirus numbers locally and throughout the state, Providence Seaside Hospital continues to handle patient flow without delays, hospital spokesman Mike Antrim said Monday. Emergency room volumes are manageable, without the need for auxiliary services or tents.

The adjacent Providence Seaside Clinic helps the flow, emergency department director Cherie Echelbarger said.

Except for a patient who was diagnosed positive while in the emergency room, all patients have been seen in the walk-in clinic or diagnosed with mild enough symptoms to recuperate at home.

The hospital’s new emergency department debuted in July.

The product of nearly four years of planning, the Providence Seaside Hospital Foundation launched beyond 911 to expand emergency care in December 2017. The foundation raised $1.5 million toward the $5.7 million project.

The emergency department sees more than 10,000 patients a year, or about 25 or 30 a day, with increased traffic on holidays and seasonally.

The department has a larger waiting and registration area along with a triage room and nine large private treatment rooms. The nine rooms include two large trauma bays, an isolation room for infection prevention and space for patients who need a more secure and quiet environment. All rooms can be made private or semiprivate.

Work began in July 2019. Expansion of the waiting area, the registration area and triage room were part of the first phase, which wentquite smooth, Echelbarger said.

The second phase, which began last December, limited the department to three rooms.

During this phase, COVID-19 began to spread on the North Coast.

While protocol and care did not change, health care staff implemented safety measures focused on social distancing and personal protective equipment, she said.

Before the pandemic, staff used personal protective equipment on certain patients, including those with tuberculosis, mumps, measles, rubella or other infections diseases.

Now, droplet masks, face shields and gloves are standard issue. Isolation gowns and respirators are available as needed.

Patients are requested to wear masks at all times.

Most patients comply, but some don’t feel they can, Echelbarger said. “We just try to create higher safety around them,” she said.

Comments on the new emergency department have been nothing but positive, she added. “We just appreciate the support from the community during a transition time in 2020,” she said. “I’m really impressed how much they’ve contributed to this.”

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