Graham Kilmer

Aurora Setting Up COVID-19 Triage Tents

Triage tents outside every emergency department will handle a surge of COVID-19 patients.

By - Mar 31st, 2020 03:38 pm
Triage tent at St. Luke's. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Triage tent at St. Luke’s. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Advocate Aurora Health, the huge non-profit healthcare system in Wisconsin and Illinois, is setting up COVID-19 triage tents outside its emergency departments.

In Milwaukee, Sinai (945 N. 12th St.) and St. Luke’s (2700 W. Oklahoma Ave.) hospitals will have these triage tents. The health care organization said in a statement that the tents are proactive preparations for the surge of COVID-19 patients expected by experts in the coming months. These triage tents are being built at every hospital “across the Aurora Advocate footprint,” the statement noted.

This additional infrastructure will allow healthcare workers at those facilities to triage potential COVID-19 patients more efficiently, and safely away from the main hospital. They are not testing centers. Keeping COVID-19 patients separated from the bulk of healthcare workers and patients when they arrive for evaluation and or treatment allows for “greater protection,” according to Aurora.

It’s expected that part of the coming surge will be patients presenting mild COVID-19 symptoms. The triage tents should allow the hospital system to efficiently keep them away from the main hospital while they are being evaluated. Only patients that require treatment after their screening will be brought into the hospital from the triage tents.

The diagrams supplied by Advocate Aurora show a generator and air handling system, presumably to handle heating or cooling of the tents.

A spokesperson for Advocate Aurora declined to comment beyond the statement posted to its website.

The triage tents are being set up in parking lots directly outside the emergency departments. Urban Milwaukee photographed one at St. Luke’s going up on March 22nd.

Each location will have a 10-by-20-foot sorting tent, immediately outside the doors to the emergency department. Patients will first enter this tent and be sent to either the emergency room or a larger, 30-by-60-foot surge tent where they will see a healthcare worker for evaluation.

The large surge tents have 12 to 13 patient bays, according to plans filed with the City of Milwaukee. So, between the two hospitals, up to 25 patients can be evaluated for COVID-19 symptoms at one time without ever stepping foot in the emergency department.

Aurora also recently announced that it has instituted universal masking at their hospitals. All employees at “acute care campuses” will wear a procedural mask at all times. These masks are typically used on hospital floors for bedside procedures, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.

Diagrams – St. Luke’s

Diagram – Sinai

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