ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WIS) - On Thursday, the South Carolina National Guard built tents that Orangeburg County leaders hope won’t be used.
Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young and the leadership at the Regional Medical Center requested the guard build the tents as a proactive step to help with hospital resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The guard began work on Wednesday.
Medical Center spokesperson Mary Deming sent WIS the following statement about the tents’ purpose and timeline:
Regional Medical Center’s (RMC) Emergency Management joined forces with the South Carolina National Guard and South Carolina Emergency Management to develop a potential Alternate Care Site (ACS) for the region. While additional beds are currently not needed, RMC proactively pursued this option to prepare for any additional spike in COVID-19 cases that could outstrip current bed capacity. The actual construction of the ACS will take 2-3 days to complete. Once the building is complete, medical equipment, monitoring and documentation stations, electronic medical records, etc. will be installed during a 2-3 week period. South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control will inspect the ACS and upon approval, the facility will be ready to take COVID-19 patients should the need arise and staffing is available.
As of July 16, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reports 84% of Orangeburg County’s hospital beds are occupied.
Currently, 26 beds are available.
DHEC also reports the county is connected to 1,382 cases and 30 deaths since the pandemic bean.
It’s currently unclear how many beds the tents could hold.
DHEC records show the rate of occupied beds has risen across the state since April 13, raising concerns about hospital resources in the event of a prolonged surge.
As of July 16, the statewide rate is 72.93%.
Young said the tents are part of a “surge plan” county leaders are working on, which also includes preparations for shortfalls in staffing and medical supplies.
He added he is concerned by the growing number of COVID-19 patients the county EMS is transporting per day (estimated 6-8).
Young urged county residents to take the virus seriously.
“The mixed narrative is causing people to not think this is serious still, which blows my mind. You still have people displaying reckless behavior,” he said.
Young urged residents to wear a mask to protect themselves and others.