CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Medical Center had surge plans in place prior to COVID-19 for different scenarios such as natural disaster or high-casualty events, according to WMC Public Relations Representative Kristy Bleizeffer.
“Early this spring, we started modifying and updating existing plans to care/treat a possible surge in COVID-19 patients,” Bleizeffer said in an email to Oil City. “Along with the guidance and expertise of our infection control team, we consulted with agencies across the city, county and region to assess available resources, gather supplies and protect and replenish our stocks of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).”
“Our surge plan is comprehensive while being flexible as the situation develops.”
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The WMC has so far not had to activate their surge plan during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bleizeffer says that the WMC is a regional referral center which “covers about 250,000 people, or about 43 percent of the state’s population.”
“In the event of a surge, Wyoming Medical Center has capacity to care for 280 patients,” she added. “We can take up to 28 intensive care patients who may require ventilation.”
The WMC’s current Intensive Care Unit layout has 14 rooms. Bleizeffer says that the surge plan would allow for 14 additional beds, equipment and staffing to care for 14 additional patients if needed.
Those additional beds would be located on the third floor of the WMC’s North Tower. Bleizeffer says the WMC updated a wing of patient rooms on that floor after the Labor and Delivery Unit moved to the third floor of the West Tower when it opened.
The North Tower’s third floor would be used in the event of a surge situation to accommodate both ICU and other patients. Bleizeffer adds that the WMC has “up to 18 ventilators available for patients on an ongoing basis. Other resources have been identified to increase ventilator capacity in a surge situation.”
Since additional staffing would be needed if the WMC were to see an influx of patients, Bleizeffer says the surge plan includes staffing considerations. She says the WMC has also “compiled a list of health professionals in the region who may be able to help if we saw a significant surge in patients.”
“Fortunately, we have not had to activate our surge plan, but certainly we expect that a surge would put pressure on our staff and resources as it has in hospitals across the country,” Bleizeffer said. “All of our staff and medical professionals have been working hard throughout this period, and we are incredibly proud and appreciative of the care they have given to our community.”
“The plan is meant to be flexible to adapt to what is actually needed on the ground. So, our Planning Section Chief in the incident command system would identify any resource shortages during the response and then work to resolve the problems. We have been stockpiling and preserving PPE and other supplies in case we need them.”
Bleizeffer said that the WMC has enough personal protective equipment stockpiled.
“Right now our PPE situation is good,” she said. “Our supplies are stocked to meet needs at current utilization rates for months, but if cases surge the supplies could quickly run out and supply chains are still very limited.”
“Right now we are not in need of any supplies, but individuals or organizations willing to offer donations are welcome to do so with our appreciation. These donations will help us be better situated in the event of a spike in cases and/or deterioration of supply chains. Donations are not an immediate need but are still appreciated.”
She added that the WMC’s COVIE-19 surge plan was submitted to both the Wyoming Department of Health and Natrona County Emergency Operations Committee.
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What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.
If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.
Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.
For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: email@example.com
- Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.