Loudoun Hospitals Prepare for Coronavirus Patient Surge

According to the latest figures reported by the Virginia Department of Health, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Loudoun County increased to 238 on Tuesday, up 29 from the previous day. 

However, Health Department Director Dr. David Goodfriend told the Board of Supervisors last night that, because of restrictions on testing, there likely are another 10 infected individuals in the community for each confirmed case. 

As health planners prepare for a surge in cases over the next week or two, the leaders of Loudoun’s two hospital reported they are ready to handle a wave of new patients.

On Tuesday, COVID-19 for the first time became the leading cause of death in America, surpassing cancer and heart disease.

The statewide stay-at-home order and the cancellation of elective surgeries have opened up bed capacity. Inova Loudoun President Deborah Addo told supervisors the census was down 44 percent compared to this time last year.  StoneSprings Hospital Center CEO Matt Mathias noted that visits to the emergency department also have dropped significantly, by 50 percent. 

Also, Inova Loudoun plans to add more capacity starting on Monday, when new mothers in the Lansdowne campus’ Birthing Inn will move to the newly constructed patient tower. The Birthing Inn, a stand-alone building, then will be available for use as an isolation center, if needed. 

Statewide, the number of new confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 10 percent Tuesday, to a total of 3,645. The number of hospitalized patients grew to 615, up 52 from the previous day. Twelve new deaths were reported, for a total of 75. There have been five COVID-19 related deaths reported in Loudoun County.

Supplies, too, remain a concern. Loudoun Health Council Chairman Dr. John Farrell said right now, physicians in private practice are “treading water” with supplies of personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks, in part because they have seen a large decrease in the number of people coming into the office.

Likewise, Fire-Rescue System Chief Keith Johnson noted that fire and rescue organizations have issued guidance that first responders should wear additional personal protective equipment: “I would ask everyone with these recommendations to send me some more PPE.” He said the department may have to conserve the equipment now so that it will still be available in the coming months.

County Administrator Tim Hemstreet said the county government is looking into whether it can use its purchasing power to help out hospitals and doctors.

The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, which monitors the hospital census throughout the commonwealth, reports that there are 1,289 hospitalized patients who have either tested positive (649) or are awaiting test results (640). Of those, 468 are undergoing treatment in intensive care units and 293 are on ventilators. Statewide, 705 of the 2,574 ventilators available are in use.

Goodfriend offered some good news, as well: Although the surge is coming, social distancing is working and the curve is flattening. That could help make the coming surge more manageable.

“That really is the day-to-day actions of folks staying at home, keeping distances from each other,” Goodfriend said. “That’s making the difference, so I really want to thank folks for doing that.”

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