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Wednesday September 23rd, 2020 1:18PM

Medical pod unit for COVID-19 patients opening soon at Northeast Georgia Medical Center

By Lauren Hunter Multimedia Journalist

The new mobile medical unit located outside of the North Patient Tower at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville will start housing patients with COVID-19 as early as Monday.

The unit, which closely resembles a large shipping container, features twenty additional patient beds divided into individual rooms, each room with its own negative pressure system.  

These additional beds will be used to hold patients suffering from COVID-19 that are currently in one of the medical floors of the hospital building. 

“It’s going to free up space, it will take those COVID patients out of the hospital and put them in their own unit as much as we can,” said Betsy Ross, Nurse Manager at NGMC Gainesville.”

Ross said that having the additional beds for patients will help lighten the increased load of patients that the hospital has taken on within the last few weeks. 

Recent numbers from the Northeast Georgia Health System website show that COVID-19 cases have drastically increased just since the beginning of July. 

On July 1, the total number of COVID-19 patients at the NGMC Gainesville location was at 30, with 64 patients undergoing treatment within the overall NGHS system. Since then the number of patients at the Gainesville location has almost tripled to 82, with 127 COVID-19 patients within the total hospital system.

“With this second wave there will probably still be some areas of the hospital that will be designated as COVID positive areas as well, but this twenty-bed [unit] will definitely take a load off of some of those units,” said Ross. 

Ross said that from her experience, NGMC Gainesville has seen a drastic increase of COVID-19 patients in recent weeks.

“Before the last couple of weeks, we were hitting low numbers,” said Ross. “Like in our critical care area that was converted, they had to open up the entire unit to 34 beds, and at one point it was down to maybe ten or 12 patients.”

An email from NGHS spokeswoman Beth Downs said that the Medical Intensive Care Unit that Ross referred to was at capacity as of July 20, with 34 beds out of 34 filled by patients confirmed to have COVID-19. Downs also said NGMC Gainesville is at 95 percent capacity for Intensive Care Unit beds in use and NGMC Braselton is at 88 percent capacity for the same.

Ross said that around ten hospital staff members per shift will move from the hospital building to work in the unit. The unit has the ability to function just like a medical floor inside the hospital, including Internet access, bathrooms and even a room for dialysis.

The unit was purchased by the Georgia Emergency Management Authority under an order from Governor Brian Kemp. The unit was shipped to NGHS in forty-four individual pieces and then constructed on-site.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

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  • Associated Tags: gainesville, Northeast Georgia Health System, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, COVID-19, mobile medical unit
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