Stanford Hospital braces for COVID-19 surge ahead of holidays: 'Like waiting for a hurricane'

STANFORD, Calif. (KGO) -- When the doors to the new Stanford Hospital opened one year ago, nobody had any idea that a global pandemic would hit within a matter of months. But with COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on the rise, medical providers there are now bracing for an imminent surge in patients.

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"It's a little bit like waiting for a hurricane," said Dr. Andra Blomkalns, chair of Stanford's emergency medicine department. "You know it's coming, you not exactly sure of all the details and exactly where it's going to land, but we know we have to be ready for something and all those preparations are happening now."

The new hospital, which has private patient rooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology, makes use of in-room digital and teleconferencing tools that have helped preserve personal protective equipment.

"Even to having what we call negative air flow that allows us to be able to treat patients in their own sequestered environment, that's really created a safe environment for patients that have to come in, whether you're here for COVID, or whether you're here for your normal course of care and treatment," said David Entwistle, Stanford Healthcare president and chief executive officer.

Stanford saw 314 patients in its emergency medicine department on Monday, setting an all-time high for daily visits. Of those, nearly a third were cases possibly related to COVID-19. The hospital is ready to reconfigure certain sections of its campus to accommodate more patients, if needed. Infectious disease experts are closely tracking the stats as they work to make sense of this silent virus.

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Hospitals across the Bay Area are preparing triage centers to accommodate a possible influx of patients as COVID-19 cases surge across the state.



"I'm watching the daily case rate (and) it's not good," said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, an infectious disease expert at Stanford. "It's going up every single day, even in the Bay Area, so we just need to know that we're not immune yet."

As we head into the holiday season, medical providers are reminding the public that COVID-19 test results only provide snapshots in time.

"It doesn't encompass the days immediately before, or the days immediately after that you might have been exposed to the illness, or that you might start to manifest symptoms," said Blomkalns. "I just implore people to make prudent decisions, responsible decisions about their travel, their getaways. We all want to see our family and friends right now. This is not the year to do it."

COVID-19 RISK CALCULATOR: The safest and most dangerous things to do this holiday season

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