Rush University Medical Center converting lobby into triage center for non-coronavirus patients

In an effort to prepare for an influx of patients, Rush University Medical Center is converting its main lobby into a triage center for non-coronavirus patients.

The lobby, known as the Brennan Pavilion, is expected to be fully converted and open to patients not presenting coronavirus symptoms starting Friday, hospital spokesman Charlie Jolie said.

“We are preparing for the next stage,” Jolie said.

The area has been transformed into a clinical area with nursing stations and screens. It also has chairs, beds and waiting rooms.

Beds are in a staging area adjacent to the lobby of Rush Medical Center in Chicago, in anticipation of a possible surge of COVID-19 patients. They're converting the main lobby into a triage center for non-coronavirus patients.

Beds are in a staging area adjacent to the lobby of Rush Medical Center in Chicago, in anticipation of a possible surge of COVID-19 patients. They’re converting the main lobby into a triage center for non-coronavirus patients.(Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)

“This triage area will be able to process this unprecedented anticipated surge in patients,” said Jolie, who said he didn’t immediately know the number of patients the area will accommodate. “We don’t want to overwhelm our ability to see anyone else.”

The hospital has allocated treatment space near the ambulance bay for patients who present with upper respiratory symptoms, he said.

Jolie said that though the volume of patients has been low, he estimates over half of the people coming to the hospital have upper respiratory symptoms or fears of being infected with the coronavirus.

The pavilion was built to be able to convert and handle a high-impact event such as a pandemic, he added. The conversion is anticipated to last for an unspecified time.

“There’s not a definite end to it. When it will go back to normal is all up in the air,” he said.

jvillagomez@chicagotribune.com

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