Military hospital sets up in DelCo

A military-style field hospital is just days away from being operational in Delaware County. That was the word from the county’s Director of Emergency Services Tim Boyce. Saturday afternoon, personnel from the 103rd Brigade Engineer Battalion began offloading beds and other equipment to turn the gymnasium at The Glen Mills School in Thornbury Township into a hospital for low acuity patients not suffering from COVID-19.

Tim Boyce, director of Delaware County Emergency Services Department.

A floor chart showing how to set up the field hospital.

"This will be a military field hospital, what you would see put up with tents, just with a hard roof and with everything you would find in a normal hospital."

The gym floor will sectioned-off into five wards, similar to how floors are set up in regular hospitals, with each ward used for a different type of patient. The idea, he explained, is to take the load off of hospitals where COVID patients are being treated.

"We are expecting a surge within the next 10-14 days. We need our critical care facilities to be able to take care of those people," Boyce said Saturday, adding that everything should be ready at the school within 36 to 48 hours.

Once up, then the state-level healthcare system will begin resourcing medical personnel to staff the facility.

As for the building and grounds of the school, Boyce said the site was almost ideal. There's no need for auxiliary power, and helicopters could bring patients in from more distant hospitals if need be.

He stressed that the facility is for low acuity patients, those needing hospitalization or temporary relocation, who are COVID free. One example of the temporary relocation would be in the case of a nursing home flood or fire where patients need to be housed but can't, or shouldn't, go to a hospital or another nursing care facility. The Glen Mills facility, he said, is not a quarantine center.

Preparations are coming from across the state.

He said the hospital would remain operating until it's no longer needed, and it can expand if necessary. "Our job right now is to worry about the worst things happening. If the hospitals need to keep going for a longer-term, we can bring in screening and diagnostic [capabilities]. It's a relief valve, that's what we hope it is. … This operation will continue until the mission is met, until whenever we say OK."

Boyce added that local hospitals are doing fine so far, “They're not under a surge demand. They're actually OK because people are not going [to them]."

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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