Hospital preparing for possible influx of patients

Apr 1, 2020

Central Peninsula Hospital is continuing preparations in case the worst occurs with the coronavirus pandemic and the hospital is inundated with cases of COVID-19.

Bruce Richards, CPH external affairs director, joined the Kenai Peninsula Office of Emergency Management nightly update Tuesday. He said the hospital continues to be closed to the public and visitors in all but a few exceptions. All nonemergency procedures are still canceled. Staff at the hospital have to maintain social distancing as much as possible and take additional steps like changing clothes and shoes when they get to work and when they leave.

The hospital currently has five ventilators and the possibility of converting other equipment if need be and is trying to build up supplies of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment.

Richards says Kenai Peninsula College donated the PPE equipment they had for their medical training programs, BlueCrest Energy recently donated more and Marathon Oil just sent about 10,000 masks from its corporate office in Ohio.

“Nobody really knows where this goes. This is equipment that all of the health care providers need to stay safe. In my opinion, you can’t have too much of it right now, just knowing the uncertainty of how this goes,” Richards said.

One of the biggest internal changes at CPH is moving the obstetrics department into the new expansion, which frees up space for extra beds in case of an influx of patients.

“We have six different places that we’re talking about surging into. If we used all of them, it would be a 144 percent increase in our capacity at the hospital,” he said. “We would more than double the inside of our hospital. Hopefully, if we all keep practicing what we’re doing, we won’t ever need that.”

If central or south peninsula hospitals were overwhelmed with patients, the borough would step in and set up an additional medical facility, though no one wants it to come to that.

“I think as a state, we’ve good a jump on getting ahead of this, if we can continue to follow these social distancing rules and these mandates,” Richards said. “And I get it, it’s hard, people don’t want to be cooped up at home. You can still go outside, I went for a walk last night. But if we can follow those and we can flatten this curve, that is probably the single biggest thing we can all do to have this thing pass us by.”

Richards said the hospital is also accepting donations of homemade masks. There’s more information on the hospital's website.