Gov. Justice asks DHHR to work with Thomas Health to stand up St. Francis Hospital as a COVID-19 surge hospital to perform a dry run


CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice has directed Cabinet Secretary Bill J. Crouch of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) to work with Thomas Health, the parent company of Saint Francis Hospital, to accept their earlier offer to stand up as a COVID-19 surge hospital. Initially, 15 beds will be prepared as this will be the first step to implement a surge hospital and test if it is prepared to receive COVID-19 patients.

In April, Saint Francis Hospital reconfigured two floors and added beds and equipment to serve up to 75 coronavirus patients. The COVID-19 surge hospital is designed to treat coronavirus patients diagnosed at medical facilities across the state who are primarily in need of active short-term care or rehabilitation services. Transfers will be coordinated through DHHR and the Thomas Health Transfer Center.

“Thank goodness we have this facility and will be able to test it before we might need to use it,” Gov. Justice said. “I want to thank Thomas Health and all our partners who stepped up to pull this together. With this facility at the ready, we will be better prepared to continue to respond to this pandemic and keep our people safe.”

The Governors Office, DHHR, the West Virginia National Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corp of Engineers assisted with the operational plans needed to prepare the surge hospital.

“We continue to work through this pandemic together. Thomas Heath and Saint Francis stand ready to care for the community during this difficult time,” said Dan Lauffer, President and CEO of Thomas Health. “It's part of our mission, it's part of being a faith-based institution.”

If and when St. Francis Hospital begins to accept COVID-19 patients, there will not be visitors. iPads will be provided to allow for scheduled televideo visits. Temperature checks will be performed on all those entering the facility and all patients must wear a face mask. For the most up to date information, please refer to Thomashealth.org.

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