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Sentara gearing up for influx of COVID-19 cases

Sentara Healthcare officials said they are ready and prepared to see an influx of COVID-19 patients.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Sentara Healthcare officials are preparing themselves to handle more cases of COVID-19.

The Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mike Gentry said officials are getting more supplies, more tests and possibly more space for patients. 

He said it’s hard to predict how many people will get the virus in Hampton Roads, but he said Sentara officials are prepared and ready to help.

“We are preparing for a very difficult situation. We are also putting a lot of energy into seeing what we can do so that does not occur,” Gentry said.

Speaking for all Sentara hospitals throughout the state, Gentry said doctors are treating around 30 people with the virus. He said about ten of those patients are in the ICU.

“We are putting patients with the common COVID-19 symptoms together and in respiratory units,” Gentry explained.

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He said that will limit the exposure and allows nurses and doctors to help people in one area. Gentry said one key challenge right now is the limitation of supplies and ventilators.

"Our PPE supply cost has gone up 20 times. In other words so if a mask used to cost $1 it now costs $20. We are spending the money, that’s not affecting us but it is expensive," he noted.

Gentry said the president of Old Dominion University reached out and said they are willing to help create a way to put more than one person on a ventilator.

“The engineering department at ODU has been working to figure out a way that one ventilator can care for three patients and testing," Gentry said.

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Gentry said Sentara officials plan to provide their own testing which would be easier and faster.

“We are working to ramp up our own internal testing and in about a week from now, we think we will have that online. The turn around time will be about five or six hours,” Gentry said.

Gentry said he’s talking with the National Guard and other organizations to see where they could move patients to other locations if the hospitals become overcrowded. He didn’t tell us where the locations would be located.

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