Medical workers give instructions at the entrance to the mobile surge unit tent outside the emergency entrance at WellStar Kennestone Hospital. Curtis Compton

Surge medical hospital opens in Marietta

A makeshift facility that popped up Sunday in the parking lot of WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta is now bustling with medical personnel, including more than a dozen volunteer physicians, nurses and paramedics.

The surge facility, set up at the hospital’s request, most likely will serve as ground zero for triaging and treating patients with coronavirus. WellStar Kennestone officials will determine in what manner the facility will be used, said Dr. John S. Harvey, medical director for the Medical Association of Georgia Medical Reserve Corps.

Harvey, a general trauma surgeon in north Atlanta, got the call on Sunday to set up the surge hospital.

“We were there in less than 12 hours,” he said. “These nurses, physicians, paramedics and administrative personnel have trained for years in being prepared for these types of disasters.”

The facility has enough room for staging, triage or treatment of patients, as well as for monitoring and testing.

State Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, a physician who is a member of the corps, said the state has eight of these mobile tent hospitals in trailers around the state that can deployed as needed. Kirkpatrick said the mobile units have lights, power and partitions to create separate rooms and handle almost anything that’s done in a brick-and-mortar hospital.

The Medical Reserve Corps is a state organization of 100 citizen volunteers, including more than 60 physicians, which provides manpower and mobile hospitals to augment disaster response in times of crisis. The corps, which has 19 units in Georgia, operates under the direction of the Georgia Department of Public Health, and the state of Georgia owns and controls the assets.

A nurse stands Tuesday at the entrance to the mobile surge unit tent outside the emergency entrance at WellStar Kennestone Hospital. Curtis Compton
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Harvey told the AJC he had not heard whether he would be asked to deploy additional multi-purpose facilities around the state. But everything is changing by the minute, he said, and everyone is doing their best to try to address needs.

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