Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital-Shawnee set up tents in front of their emergency room to treat people in case there was a surge of patients, however after several weeks the hospital has decided to take them down Tuesday, April 28.

According to Medical Director of the Emergency A.C. Husenn, the tents were intended to be used to treat less vulnerable patients with COVID-19 symptoms before they entered the emergency room.

"We never had to active the tents in our community which is a good thing," Husenn said. "The goal of the tents would have been to triage patients before they entered the emergency room and they had the capability to treat patients."

Husenn said patients that are higher risk would have gone into the emergency room's isolation area and receive treatment.

However, Husenn said now that the state will began the first few phases of reopening businesses and communities the hospital feels its time to take the tents down.

"We're fortunately in a place where we feel with opening businesses back up we will be able to provide the necessary care to the community," Husenn said.

Though the tents are coming down, Husenn said the emergency room will still have isolation rooms and St. Anthony feels it's safe to remove the tents.

"Our priority is the safety of the patients. If we didn't think it was safe for the patients we wouldn't take them down," Husenn said.

The doctor said the emergency room has and will continue to triage potential COVID-19 patients and based on their symptoms will decide how to proceed.

Husenn said if needed the patients will be taken to the isolation rooms which are throughly cleaned and sterilized and have the necessary equipment to treat COVID-19 patients.

Husenn said as the pandemic has continued he has seen a decrease in patients coming to the emergency room for health issues other than COVID-19.

"There's kind of this fear to go to the emergency department...because of the potential to catch COVID-19 and that is not the case," Husenn said.

The medical professional said the risk for COVID-19 spreading to people in the emergency room is very low and he encourages community members to seek proper treatment for urgent medical issues despite this pandemic.

"I've seen patients (with) symptoms (that) are much more severe because they waited a few days and they're much sicker than if they would have come in initially when they're symptoms started," Husenn said.

Husenn said the hospital is taking every safety measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and he hopes as time goes on community members will go to the emergency room so he and other medical professionals can help them.

The doctor said people should still continue social distancing and safety measures as the state begins to open operations back up and a new normal approaches.

According to Angi Mohr, President of St. Anthony, while the hospital will slowly begin the process of returning to normal, it will continue to put the safety of its employees and community ahead of anything else.

“Although the tents are coming down and we are eager to bring our operations back to baseline we will do so in a strategic manner," Mohr said. "Our patients, visitors, employees and physicians will remain our top priority and we will continue to take every precaution to keep them safe. We will continue to screen anyone entering our buildings and our use of PPE will remain in effect."

For more information on COVID-19 treatments and help people can call (405) 273-5801 or visit ssmhealth.com/covid19.

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