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HCP EXEC TALK: Oswego Health’s Tull discusses its COVID-19 approach

By Eric Reinhardt


Two workers take down the triage tent outside Oswego Hospital’s emergency room. (Photo credit: Oswego Health)

OSWEGO, N.Y. — Oswego Health near the end of May removed a respiratory triage tent that the organization had set up outside Oswego Hospital to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This portable tent, which was constructed to triage all emergency walk-in visits to assist with screening of patients prior to entry into the facility, was part of Oswego Health’s preparedness should a surge of COVID-19 patients arrive at the hospital,” Dr. Duane Tull, chief medical officer at Oswego Health, tells CNYBJ in an email.

That surge never happened. Tull said that due to the low number of COVID-19 patients the hospital saw and the continued visitation restrictions it has in place, Oswego Health “no longer needed an isolated triage center outside the building.”

As of June 11, Oswego Hospital had treated just six COVID-19 inpatients, per Tull.

Oswego Health removed the portable tent on May 29 after having had constructed it on April 20. The organization partnered with local vendor, Rental Warehouse, for the installation of the triage tent. The tent is readily available and can be installed within 24 hours, should the need arise, the organization said.

The tent was constructed to provide a safe environment to further protect patients visiting the emergency room (ER) with COVID-19 symptoms as well as regular ER patients, according to Tull.

D.r Duane Tull, Oswego Health chief medical officer.

“All patients arriving at Oswego Hospital ER were first evaluated in the triage tent and cleared for any respiratory illness before continuing into the emergency room at the hospital. If patients did have symptoms of respiratory illness they were seen by a provider in the tent for further evaluation. Overall, this experience proved the entire staff at Oswego Health is capable of quickly managing an emergency department outside of its walls,” Tull said in the email.

Oswego Health wants to encourage people to seek emergency care and other health-case services if they need them and assure them that it is safe to do so.

“Our continued goal is to make people feel comfortable seeking emergent care for any illnesses or injury that can become serious without prompt attention,” Dr. Micheal Stephens, associate chief medical officer, said in a May 29 statement. “Oswego Hospital is a very safe environment; in fact, it may be safer than it ever has been, because of the new safety procedures.”