Owensboro Health Regional Hospital will be operating as the regional critical care center for COVID-19 patients by partnering with nearby hospitals in smaller-populated and rural areas that don’t have the staff or equipment needed to care for a surge in cases.
Owensboro Health serves a 15-county region and is partnering with critical access hospitals to provide care that they may not have the resources to provide locally.
According to officials, the decision to help other hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic falls in line with OH’s mission statement to “heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities we serve.”
Vice President of Medical Affairs Michael Kelley said OHRH will primarily be partnering with rural hospitals that don’t have many ventilators on hand or those who can’t care for a high number of critical care patients.
The hospital will accept critically ill patients from Hancock, Henderson, Grayson, Ohio, Muhlenberg, Webster, McLean and Union counties in Kentucky as well as Spencer and Perry counties in Indiana.
Kelley also said OHRH won’t be at higher risk by bringing in more patients, adding that the hospital has served as a regional hub for the medical community far before the current pandemic.
“This just happened to ramp it up a bit,” he said.
Kelley said while it’s possible OHRH may implement ambulance services in addition to AMR, some of the partnering hospitals have ambulance services of their own that could be used.
In preparing for more critical care patients, the hospital’s surge preparedness team has begun looking at all avenues of expansion. OHRH has spent a few weeks training nurses and doctors — including outpatient physicians and family practitioners — for life in the critical care unit.
“That’s happening right now,” Kelley said. “We’ll probably have to convert existing equipment to ventilators to train them. We’ve asked [outpatient doctors and others] to grade themselves on their comfort level of taking care of COVID-19 patients.”
If there comes a point when OHRH becomes overwhelmed by the number of critical care patients, it’s possible they will transport less critically ill patients to other medical facilities. That possibility is another part of OHRH’s ongoing surge plan, Kelley said, although the “trigger point” at which the hospital will send patients elsewhere hasn’t been defined yet.
“Once we know how many beds are being used, how many cases we’re seeing a day, we can predict when that point will be and call other providers,” Kelley said.
The Owensboro Health coronavirus hotline is available 24/7 by calling 877-888-6647. Call the hotline before seeking in-person care. More information from OH can be found here.
For the latest information and data on COVID-19 in Kentucky visit kycovid19.ky.gov or dial the Kentucky state hotline at 800-722-5725.
For the latest health guidelines and resources from the CDC, visit their website here.