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New Hampshire surge sites ready for patients

(WCAX)
Published: Apr. 10, 2020 at 3:59 PM EDT
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Despite a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases in New Hampshire, 14 clinical surge sites or field hospitals are open across the state. That brings total bed capacity to more than 5,000. Gov. Chris Sununu toured one of those facilities in Concord on Friday. Our Adam Sullivan was there.

In order to get into the facility, everyone, including Adam, needed to have their temperature taken and answer a couple of quick questions.

The surge hospital can provide care for about 250 COVID-19 positive patients.

"Those who need to self-isolate, need to be kept safe but lack the capacity to do that themselves safely. This often is most applicable with socially vulnerable populations," said Dr. Chris Fore of Concord Hospital.

The governor toured the facility Friday along with members of the New Hampshire National Guard.

The 14 surge sites have been strategically located across the state. They are meant to deal with a potential overflow of patients at nearby hospitals.

New Hampshire National Guard soldiers helped get them up and running using expertise they gained overseas.

"Another example would be the strategic national stockpile. All that PPE that's coming through the state of New Hampshire. We are currently running those warehouse operations," Adj. Gen. David Mikolaities said.

The surge hospitals added more than 1,600 beds to New Hampshire's overall bed capacity, which is now around 5,200 beds.

As of Friday, 885 people in New Hampshire tested positive for the coronavirus. Only 124 needed to be hospitalized. That's only a fraction of the state's overall bed capacity. We asked Governor Sununu why so many extra beds were needed.

"Go ask New York City if they should have gotten more surge centers up and running earlier and faster," said Sununu, R-New Hampshire. "This is the type of crisis that can get exponential very, very quickly. It is all about being prepared."

While Sununu says he hopes this surge site and the others across the state will never be needed, he says they could be asked to reopen them in the event of another crisis.

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