UCHealth unveiled three new medical tents to screen patients with potential COVID-19 symptoms. UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central’s tent opened on Tuesday, with other tents at Memorial Hospital North and the freestanding emergency clinic in Fountain opening in the future.
The tents are in place to help prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 in waiting rooms, said David Steinbruner, the associate chief medical officer for UCHealth Memorial.
Steinbruner said patients presenting with respiratory symptoms will be directed to the tents when they arrive at the emergency room. Physicians will advise patients on next steps for treatment, as well as gather samples to be sent to labs for COVID-19 and other virus testing. He said the state is working on increasing the number of COVID-19 tests available.
The tents are “mostly screening sites,” said Steinbruner. “There’s not a lot to do in terms of treatment if a patient presents with mild symptoms [of COVID-19], other than go home.”
Steinbruner said the hospital system chose the three locations with the highest volume of patient visits to place the tents. The freestanding clinic is also in an area with a lack of health centers for people to go, he said, and leadership anticipates a large number of people visiting the clinic.
While Steinbruner said he hasn’t seen a spike in ER visits, the tents are in place to prepare for the future.
"Let’s put it into play before we have severe need of it,” he said, “so that we can flatten the curve and make it possible that this rise in cases doesn’t happen quite as quickly.”
He said the tents are “part of the solution to make sure our hospitals when they get a large number of very sick patients, we’re ready and able to take care of that and haven’t used up all of our resources at the same time.”
Memorial Hospital Central saw over 40 patients when it opened on Tuesday, he said. The other two locations will open in the future as needed.
Steinbruner said the best defense against COVID-19 is “washing your hands, staying healthy and staying home.”