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Deaconess provides exclusive look into hospital’s daily operations on COVID-19

Updated: Apr. 22, 2020 at 11:34 PM CDT
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NEWBURGH, Ind. (WFIE) - One hospital in the Tri-State provides an inside look into its daily operations as doctors, nurses and patients continue to battle against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Deaconess Health System granted 14 News with an inside look at Deaconess Gateway Hospital right up to the doors of the COVID-19 unit.

Seven patients are currently being treated for COVID-19 between Deaconess Gateway and Deaconess Midtown Hospital in Evansville.

While it’s highly unfortunate these seven people have contracted the coronavirus, this number is much lower than initially expected. The anticipated surge of COVID-19 cases has not happened so far in Evansville.

14 News asked Deaconess Health System President Dr. James Porter why the Evansville area missed the surge.

“I think it mostly has to do with we knew in advance - before there were any cases in the community," Dr. Porter said. "We had initiated social distancing and taken measures to help people understand what they needed to do to keep themselves safe.”

In the meantime, numbers are down in the emergency room as well.

People are staying away for fear of contracting the coronavirus.

Hospital officials took 14 News inside Deaconess Gateway through a special entrance to the emergency room, which was created specifically for the pandemic.

According to Dr. Porter, emergency room admissions are down from 300 per day to nearly 120 per day.

Dr. Porter says it important to note that because of all the precautions being taken by healthcare personnel, a hospital is one of the safest places to be in public. One example of these precautions is that the COVID-19 unit uses negative air flow to isolate it from the rest of the hospital.

“So what that means is any germs that there might be in the air - any viral particles that might be in the air have no opportunity to come out here," Dr. Porter said.

Meanwhile, registered nurse Molly Elpers opened up about her recent experiences at the hospital. Elpers says she was nervous at first, but Deaconess has had no shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) and no employee has contracted COVID-19 from treating a patient.

Since visitors are currently not allowed, Elpers says she and her colleagues have also served as surrogate families during the good and bad times.

“That’s been a little hard,” Elpers said. “We have had several nurses that have to stay in the rooms with the patients passing away. It’s rough.”

Elpers is married and some of her colleagues are married with children. They all said their families are not only supportive of their work in the COVID-19 unit, but they are very proud.

Deaconess has announced that elective procedures will resume this week.

Health officials at Ascension St. Vincent said they plan to start up elective procedures in the very near future, but they do not have a specific date yet.

Owensboro Health System says it is following the state’s mandate on elective surgery and does not have a estimated date yet on when those procedures will open up in Kentucky.

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