West Virginia’s first ‘surge’ hospital amid virus outbreak

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A Charleston hospital has become West Virginia’s first COVID-19 surge hospital ahead of the state’s projected peak of coronavirus cases.

Saint Francis Hospital was ready to receive virus patients as of Friday, The Charleston Gazette Mail reported.

“Hopefully, we’ll never have to use it,” said Brian Lilly, chief quality officer for Thomas Health, the organization that operates Saint Francis and Thomas Memorial Hospital. “But if we do, we have the capability here now to handle whatever may come up.”

Saint Francis has devoted two floors to serve coronavirus patients, as well as add beds and equipment, if West Virginia’s case load is higher than anticipated, Lilly said.

The hospital will treat patients who were diagnosed at medical facilities across the state and who are in need of active short-term care or rehabilitation services. The patients will be referred to the Charleston surge hospital by state public health officials.

West Virginia had seen more than 570 confirmed cases and five deaths as of Saturday.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks, and the overwhelming majority of people recover. But people with severe cases can need respirators to survive, and with infections spreading exponentially, many hospitals are bracing for coming waves of patients.

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Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.