Coronavirus: Additional ‘triage’ measures coming to St. Thomas Elgin ER

Tents will be set up on the property outside of the emergency department. Google Maps / 2017

St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital (STEGH) is in the process of setting up temporary tented areas outside their emergency department in the ongoing battle against the novel coronavirus.

READ MORE: Canada in it ‘for the long haul’ with COVID-19, deputy health officer says

The tents are being installed to provide additional space in which to implement safety precautions, before patients enter the hospital.

“This is really a strategy that we’ve implemented to pre-triage patients before we can determine which is the most suitable area of the emergency department for them to get a further triage assessment and then treated accordingly,” said Craig Watkin, director of Emergency Services and Medicine St. Thomas.

STEGH is stressing that the tents being set up are not assessment centres — they are an additional level of safety to protect patients and staff in the emergency department.

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“This is absolutely not an assessment centre. We felt that really this is something additional that we needed to do with regards to just making sure that we have our safety measures in check and that we can do these assessments for people that are attending the emergency department,” said Watkin.

READ MORE: Elgin County’s first confirmed COVID-19 patient admitted to St. Thomas ICU

Watkin told Global News what steps are being taken inside the tents before patients are being allowed to go into the building to be further assessed by medical professionals.

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“We will be having nurses in the pre-triage tent at the front, and they will be basically going over some screening questions around COVID-19 and respiratory concerns.”

“We will also have nurses do a quick assessment in regards to pulse and oxygen levels in the blood which is a very simple test. From those questions and the additional pulse and pulse oximetry, they determine which is the most appropriate area for the patient to go for their further assessment,” Watkin added.

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As local cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the region, Watkin spoke to the level of proficiency front line healthcare workers have been practicing at STEGH.

“The organization has been extremely impressed with the level of professionalism and dedication from our staff and physicians across the organization. We just continue to be impressed by what they do and the care they provide.”

Patients are again being reminded to stay home if they have simple cold and flu-like symptoms and continue to practice self-isolation and social distancing.

READ MORE: Social distancing is out, physical distancing is in — here’s how to do it

“We’ve been telling patients really if they feel like they have cold and flu-like symptoms, then really they should stay away from the hospital and stay at home and continue to self-isolate and really notify public health and their family physician.”

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The tents arrived on hospital property on March 27. They are expected to be assembled over the next several days.

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