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Local medical centers prepare for potential influx of COVID-19 cases

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The Tri-County region (Peoria, Woodford, and Tazewell County) had four new cases on Thursday for a total of 21 cases.

Peoria has nine, Tazewell has six (with one linked to travel and one who drove to McLean County and tested positive at their drive-thru test site) Woodford also has six (the new case linked to contact with a known positive case).

Since the Governor said we're weeks away from our peak, our local hospitals are making sure they are ready.

The Chief Nursing Officer for OSF St. Francis Medical Center, Jen Hopwood, said they have enough PPE to where she believes none of their employees are at risk and they have made plans within the hospital if the hundreds of beds available begin to fill.

Hopwood said they are typically a 649 bed facility with 120 ICU beds. But with a potential influx of cases they can increase that to 1,000 beds with 200 ICU ones.

"Part of that is due to being able to utilize spaces outside of the traditional ICU setting. Areas like out procedural areas, recovery rooms, pre-post areas."

Hopwood said they have an adequate supply of ventilators, 130. Currently 38 are in use.

"The ventilators that we do have are able to do multi-patient modalities, not ideal and that would be a last resort. We could also look to utilizing our anesthesia machines for ventilation."

The overall patient volume is down because elective procedures have been delayed, giving nurses a chance to learn new skills.

"And training them to be able to partner with nurses who are working in those in patient settings to be able to care for that influx of patients. Getting training in our electronic medical record to be able to document and review the records, have been going through skills and competency validations to be able to partner with the core staff from that area."

If you go to the ER now, you will immediately be triaged to a respiratory illness area or non respiratory.

Hopwood also said they're looking at standard operating procedures for anything from child birth to radiation treatments and how those protocols would change with a COVID-19 suspected or positive patient.

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis said your decisions could impact these men and women on the front lines.

''I'm not going to sugar coat things now, so make no mistake …our toughest days are ahead. If we all do our part to follow social distancing and strictly minimize movement throughout the community unless it's absolutely necessary, the pain may not be as bad."

Kaitlin Pearson

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