Triage tents ready for surge at Baystate Noble Hospital, Westfield hits 90 confirmed cases

A triage tent at Baystate Noble Hospital is ready for patients presenting COVID-19 symptoms. (HOPE E. TREMBLAY/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

WESTFIELD- Triage tents outside Baystate Noble Hospital’s emergency department will be used to handle a potential surge of COVID-19 patients as the coronavirus continues to spread in the community.

Baystate Noble Hospital’s (BNH) Public Affairs and Relations Specialist Maura Tobias said the tents were put up outside the hospital to meet the extra demand that is expected as the pandemic continues. 

We expect the number of people presenting [symptoms] to increase, and this structure provides us with an area to rapidly assess those people,” said Tobias, “We are anticipating a greater demand for evaluation of people with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. If a person is symptomatic and ill, we will bring that person inside for definitive care.”

As of April 2, the number of confirmed cases in Westfield hit 90, including at least five firefighters and one police officer. One death has been confirmed so far in Westfield. 

Triages are used in the medical field, typically in emergency situations to assess a number of patients and determine the acuity of their ailment. Those in need of immediate treatment for COVID-19 will be brought in for care, while those with symptoms that do not require intervention will likely be asked to quarantine and recover at home. 

Tobias said that BNH has a plan in place to handle a surge of COVID-19 patients, which includes using all available space in the hospital.

The severity of symptoms for COVID-19 appears to vary greatly from person to person. There have been many cases globally where individuals tested positive but never showed symptoms and likely would have never known they were sick if they were not tested. 

In other cases, individuals appear to come down with symptoms described as being like a severe flu. One may struggle to breath, come down with a fever, have a persistent dry cough, and feel a severe tightness in their chest. 

In the worst cases where hospital intervention is required, the virus attacks the lungs to such a degree that one cannot get enough oxygen to their brain, and a ventilator is required for recovery. 

Westfield’s Public Health Director Joseph Rouse said that Westfield’s number of confirmed cases is not unlike that of other communities in the area. He said the difference in the numbers between communities is likely small, despite the numbers released by other towns.

“I can assure you that our numbers are not inconsistent with what other communities should be at,” said Rouse, who later added, “I’m a very big advocate that we just want to be transparent and provide accurate info. Unfortunately, in this situation, it makes us stand out.” 

The Town of Southwick has confirmed three cases in the community, but has not released updated numbers since March 27.

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