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LifeBridge Health > Press Releases > LifeBridge Health Prepares for Potential Surge in Patients due to Coronavirus Pandemic

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Sharon Boston
LifeBridge Health Prepares for Potential Surge in Patients due to Coronavirus Pandemic
New 20-Bed Unit at Northwest Hospital to Open Next Week; One of the System’s Many Initiatives in Response to New Virus
For Immediate Release
March 20, 2020

Baltimore, MD - LifeBridge Health, one of the largest healthcare systems in Maryland, is preparing to add more than 500 additional beds among its five hospitals in response to a potential surge in patients needing care due to the Coronavirus.

LifeBridge Health leaders have been planning surge capacity as part of their ongoing emergency preparedness efforts, which are reviewed each year and tested with regional and statewide exercises. With the Coronavirus, those plans have escalated with ongoing discussions about building surge capacity.

“Each hospital has a written emergency plan in place that includes how we can quickly increase capacity in beds, staffing and equipment,” said Tom Jeffers, corporate director of emergency management for LifeBridge Health. “We have multiple phases outlined at each facility to add as the need grows.”

The first increase in capacity should come the week of March 23 when Northwest Hospital adds 20 medical/surgical beds on a unit that was already undergoing renovations.

“When we saw the need for additional capacity, we were able to act swiftly to convert the space to a medical/surgical unit,” said James Roberge, vice president of capital improvements and support services at LifeBridge Health. “Our facilities, engineering, IT and clinical teams have stepped up to ensure the unit is fully equipped and ready by the end of next week.”

Along with LifeBridge Health departments, multiple subcontractors have stepped in to help complete the project.

The unit will have wiring for telemetry, allowing for patient monitoring, and telemedicine capabilities for communicating with patients remotely.

“I’m extremely proud of the team’s quick thinking and action to ensure we are as prepared as we can be for an influx of patients needing care,” said Leslie Simmons, R.N., F.A.C.H.E., executive vice president of LifeBridge Health.

More than 70 beds could also be added at Grace Medical Center (the former Bon Secours Hospital) to care for non-COVID-19 patients, freeing up capacity at LifeBridge Health’s other hospitals. These beds could also be ready by the middle of next week.

In order to free up bed capacity and conserve resources, LifeBridge Health has also postponed all elective surgeries.

COVID-19 Initiatives

This is part of LifeBridge Health’s ongoing and rapid response to the Coronavirus, under the direction of the system’s COVID-19 Command Center. In anticipation of a surge of COVID-19 patients, LifeBridge Health set up triage tents outside the emergency departments of Sinai, Northwest and Carroll Hospitals.

LifeBridge Health’s Virtual Hospital quickly stood up a tele-triage program using a hotline and video visits to rapidly screen potential patients. In just one week, the tele-triage system went from screening 33 patients the first day to screening more than 600 a day just a week later. The team continues to look at expanding the COVID-19 tele-triage program.

“The tele-triage program offers tremendous potential to screen individuals quickly and limit possible exposure to healthcare workers because the patients are on the phone or video. In just a week-and-a-half of operation, we have seen tremendous interest and exponential growth,” explained Jonathan Thierman, M.D., chief medical information officer for LifeBridge Health and medical director of the system’s Virtual Hospital.

After screening individuals, the tele-triage program can then refer potential patients to drive-up testing facilities at both Carroll and Sinai hospitals. Patients must have a referral coordinated through the COVID tele-triage program. Patients must go through this referral process as there are strict procedures they must follow to protect the healthcare workers who are doing the testing.

Also, Grace Medical Center is working on the potential for a walk-up testing facility in West Baltimore.

“Teams from LifeBridge Health are working together on many fronts to care for our patients and our communities. We are heartened to hear from so many, including retired nurses and physicians, who have come forward to ask how they can help. We believe this is truly a CARE BRAVELY moment for all of us, and we are so grateful for the amazing work of our team members from all across the system,” added Simmons.

About LifeBridge Health
LifeBridge Health is one of the largest, most comprehensive providers of health services in Maryland. LifeBridge Health includes Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Northwest Hospital, Carroll Hospital, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, Grace Medical Center and related subsidiaries and affiliates. For more information, visit


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