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Bed Surge Planning for COVID-19

SCHA has been working closely with DHEC, the Emergency Management Division (EMD) and the National Guard to develop a surge plan for South Carolina built around DHEC’s inventory of available beds, the trajectory of COVID-19 cases in South Carolina, interviews with hospitals about capacity to take on additional patients, and procedures for establishing and managing alternate care sites. Based on the models being followed by the State, COVID-19 cases are expected to peak n South Carolina in late April to mid-May.

The state’s Medical Surge Planning Team, which includes representatives from SCHA, DHEC and the National Guard, has developed a plan to expand that capacity by 3,000 beds for a total of roughly 9,000 beds for peak surge timing. The plan tiers facilities based on patients’ medical needs. High-risk patients requiring more medical care will be transported to hospitals with greater emergency and intensive care resources, while lower acuity patients will be treated in smaller hospitals or alternate care sites:

  • Tier 3 — Traditional acute care hospitals delivering critical care to COVID-19 patients and providing other acute medical services,
  • Tier 2 — High quality, professional healthcare services that are less intensive and non-emergent,
  • Tier 1 — Low-acuity healthcare settings designed for COVID-19 isolation and quarantine.

South Carolina has identified 18 facilities, including coliseums, hotels and closed hospitals for potential use as alternate care sites. The former sites of Fairfield Memorial Hospital and Marlboro Park Hospital are also being considered.

If your hospital is planning to expand surge capacity beyond your licensed bed capacity, you should complete this Internal Surge Form managed by DHEC.

If your hospital plans to open brick-and-mortar or tent-like alternate care locations, you should complete this ACS/External Surge Form managed by DHEC.

South Carolina EMD, the National Guard, and other agencies are available to assist with the set up of these alternate care locations. They can also provide or contract for all non-medical services, such as cots, generator power, sanitation, waste disposal, lighting, security, and nutrition. To request this assistance, contact your county EMD at the same time you submit the ACS/External Surge Form to DHEC. Your county EMD will connect with the state EMD to arrange for these services.