Photo by Dermot Connolly
A sterile tent suitable for treating patients with COVID-19 is located in a parking lot in the 9400 block of South Kilbourn Avenue, opposite the emergency room of Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. The triage tent, in which air is filtered in and out, is available to allow patients to be treated in a sterile environment outside the hospital.
By Dermot Connolly
The three local hospitals are on the front line s of the war against the novel coronavirus and the deadly COVID-19 disease it causes.
But the campuses of OSF Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Evergreen Park, Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, and Palos Hospital in Palos Heights look somewhat deserted from the outside because of no-visitor policies enacted to curb the spread of the virus.
Patients who tested positive for the coronavirus disease are being treated at all three hospitals, but the exact numbers monitored by the Cook County Department of Public Health are difficult to keep track of on a day-to-day basis.
According to published reports, over the past 10 days or so, three people with COVID-19 have died at Advocate Christ, followed by one each at OSF Little Company of Mary and Palos Hospital.
The first was a 69-year-old Chicago man who died at Advocate Christ on March 23, followed by a 72-year-old Burbank woman on March 24. Both had cardiovascular disease. Then an 87-year-old Chicago man with cardiovascular disease died at the Oak Lawn hospital last Thursday, March 26.
A 69-year-old Chicago woman died of the disease at OSF Little Company of Mary on Friday. She was already suffering from renal failure and other health issues. Also on Friday, a 61-year-old man from Oak Forest with COVID-19 and pulmonary fibrosis died at Palos Hospital.
At Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s daily press conference on Tuesday, state officials said there were 937 additional cases of the novel coronavirus and 26 more deaths, including 17 in Cook County. Statewide, there have been 99 deaths since the start of the outbreak as of Tuesday.
However, while the numbers are thought to be relatively small now, at local hospitals, provisions have been made at Advocate Christ to handle an expected increase. An overflow tent equipped to care for patients in sanitary conditions has already been erected in a parking lot of the 9400 block of South Kilbourn Avenue, opposite the entrance to the emergency department.
Johnna Kelly, a spokesperson for the hospital, said it is not in use yet. According to a statement from Advocate Aurora Health, these Emergency Department Overflow Tents are being set up at all Advocate Aurora hospitals.
“ They are part of proactive preparations for a surge of volume in patients who present to the Emergency Department with mild COVID symptoms. These are not testing locations. The tents allow for greater protection of our team members and patients by separating suspected COVID patients and not bringing them into the main hospital unless they require further treatment after their screening,” the statement said.
“ The tents also help us efficiently conserve personal protective equipment as they are designed in a way so that staffing is kept to a minimum.”
Lee Batsakis, a spokesperson for OSF Healthcare, said "OSF HealthCare is always in preparedness mode and those efforts have been ramped up in coordination with local Emergency Medical Systema in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of our approach to be ready for a variety of scenarios, a tent has been placed on the OSF HealthCare Little Company of Mary Medical Center campus. It is not being utilized at this time, but is in place if the need arises for additional capacity to care for our patients outside of our traditional settings."
The only structure readily apparent outside Palos Hospital is a an open-sided tent in front of the entrance, where people can be evaluated for symptoms before coming in.
All three hospitals provide extensive information about the coronavirus situation on their websites, including what people experiencing symptoms should do. More information may be obtained at paloshealth.com, advocateaurorahealth.org, and osfhealthcare.org.