Cook County Health has taken several steps to prepare for COVID-19, including developing strategies for the expected surge. Like other health systems, CCH has cancelled elective surgeries and procedures and is conducting as many ambulatory visits as possible telephonically. These strategies have already allowed for the redeployment of staff to areas of need like Stroger and Cermak Health Services.
As a small, community hospital, Provident is best positioned to care for lower acuity patients whereas Stroger is where we treat more complex patients, including the overwhelming majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
To best position the system for COVID-19, CCH has made the decision to temporarily suspend the following services at Provident Hospital.
- Operating Room – The Provident OR provides only non-emergent and elective surgeries and procedures. As these services have been temporarily suspended, we have redeployed the staff to areas of need in other parts of the system.
- Emergency Room – Because the Provident Emergency Department does not accept ambulances, the acuity of patients is relatively low. High acuity patients are routinely transferred to Stroger. The Provident emergency room has a very small footprint and sees fewer than 70 patients each day. It was not designed to handle a large volume of patients or the challenges of a pandemic involving a highly contagious disease. The limitations of the current emergency room were a consideration in the decision to pursue the construction of a new facility.
At this time, Provident has cared for only a few COVID-19 cases. Through these few cases and anticipating increasing numbers of potential cases, leadership has identified several opportunities to reduce the risk of transmission should multiple suspect patients be present at the same time. These changes include reconfiguring the current flow of patients, increasing space between patients and creating and equipping areas to function as isolation areas, if needed.
As such, CCH will temporarily suspend regular ED services as of Monday, April 6, to complete these changes with the intention to reopen the Provident emergency room by May 6, or sooner if possible. The staff will be temporarily reassigned to Stroger or other areas in the system to assist with COVID-19 response.
Patients who present to the hospital during this time with an emergent need will be triaged and either directed to a nearby hospital, Stroger Hospital or seen by a physician at Provident. CCH patients seeking medication refills through the emergency room will be directed to the Sengstacke Clinic at Provident.
- Intensive Care Unit – Provident has a 6 bed ICU and is currently staffing only 4 of those beds. With suspensions in the OR and the Emergency Room, there is limited utility in keeping the ICU open at this time. This will allow us to redeploy additional staff until the ICU beds are reopened.
CCH leadership believes this plan provides the best opportunity for both the system’s surge plan and Provident’s ability to meaningfully contribute to the COVID crisis.
Leadership is also exploring the feasibility of using the unstaffed beds at Provident to reduce the pressure expected at Stroger (either for low-acuity COVID or low acuity non-COVID patients). This scenario would require and is contingent on the availability of additional staffing. CCH has requested additional healthcare personnel from the state to assist in staffing at Provident.