Vermont National Guard surge hospital sees first patient

Published: Apr. 11, 2020 at 7:03 PM EDT
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The Vermont National Guard are preparing for the worst, and are ready to care for patients should hospitals reach capacity for those infected with COVID-19.

The Guard's Alternate Health Facility in Essex Junction will only receive patients referred by hospitals, and is staffed by multiple medically trained personnel.

"It all depends on what the States' needs are," said State Surgeon Gino Trevisani, "We're here, we're available we've been trained, the facility is set; we're ready to receive patients at the need of the state. A lot of experience, all working together, we've cross-trained ourselves, consolidated to one big unit and we are ready to make this mission successful."

The main purpose of the facility is to treat patients with injuries from slips, trips, and falls; allowing hospitals to focus resources on those who require a higher level of care. But, the Guard is already expanding who they are bringing in. 50 beds will be made available for patients with coronavirus. Its one of eight separate sections at the facility.

"The state called us to take care of one COVID-19 positive patient that needed some special needs, and we were prepared to take that patient and the patient came in [Friday] night," Trevisani said.

Other on-site medical personnel are confident in the facilities ability to care for patients.

"It has been evolving and growing more and more everyday," said Corbin Bailey, an Air Guard Licensed Nurse Practitioner, "I can confidently say the farther along we have gone the better and more confidence I have."

The Guard says similar facilities across the country have ranged in the millions of dollars, but officials estimate material costs came in around $150,000.

With one patient at the facility, the Guard has just under 400 total beds still available.

In total, Vermont has over 600 hospital beds and 135 ICU beds available for any patients. As of Saturday, just over 75 are hospitalized with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19.