New Intensive Care Unit Open Now Open at Phoebe North

Staff Report From Albany CEO

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

As part of Phoebe’s evolving efforts to refine its response to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure it is providing the best possible care, Phoebe is opening an additional COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) and consolidating its Albany emergency services. The ICU is located at Phoebe North, a hospital campus on Palmyra Road about 1.5 miles away from Phoebe’s main hospital in Albany. It opened Monday, two days ahead of schedule. “We have received outstanding support from Gov. Kemp and other state leaders. Through our partnership with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA) we were able to secure the necessary staff and equipment to reopen the former ICU on our north campus in just a few weeks. Typically, that work would be expected to take several months,” said Joe Austin, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Chief Executive Officer.

The 12-bed ICU at Phoebe North began accepting patients Monday morning. Later this week, two 15-bed general COVID-19 medical units will also open at Phoebe North. One of those units can immediately transition to an ICU if more critical care capacity is needed. “We will continue to expand our COVID-19 capacity at Phoebe North in phases over the next few weeks. That includes a total of 101 beds inside the hospital and a 24-bed modular unit being constructed by GEMA in the back parking lot. We hope we won’t need all those resources, but we will be well-prepared, if the COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen in Georgia,” Austin said.

Phoebe will also relocate its drive-through COVID-19 testing site to the emergency center at Phoebe North and will consolidate all emergency services to the main campus emergency center on Wednesday, April 22.

“Our drive-through testing site has been incredibly successful. We have collected swabs from around 2,200 people at our initial location behind Phoebe North, but as we move further into Spring, we have had to shut down operations for a couple of days due to stormy weather, and hotter temperatures are creating challenging conditions for our collection teams. By moving drive-through testing to the Phoebe North Emergency Center, we can operate at full capacity in a safer facility using fewer staff and shift those resources to treating our inpatients,” said Scott Steiner, Phoebe Putney Health System Chief Executive Officer.

With the repurposing of the Phoebe North Emergency Center as a COVID-19 testing facility, emergency care staff and equipment will transfer to the main campus to expand capabilities at the emergency center there. “We continue to see substantial numbers of COVID-19 patients in our main campus emergency center every day, and many of them are critically ill when they get to us. Increasing and consolidating staffing, resources and equipment in one place will allow us to operate more efficiently and continue to offer the quality, timely care these high-acuity patients need,” said James Black, MD, Phoebe Putney Health System Medical Director of Emergency Services.

Patient volume at the Phoebe North Emergency Center has declined significantly during the COVID-19 public health crisis. “Pre-COVID, we were seeing an average of 68 emergency patients at Phoebe North each day. Over the last month, that number has dropped by more than half to an average of around 30 patients per day. Consolidating our emergency services not only will benefit our patients, it just makes sense operationally right now,” Steiner said.

As part of the transition, Phoebe will also expand service hours at its Community Care Clinic, located directly across the street from its main campus emergency center. The clinic will now be open from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m., seven days a week. “We hope the extended hours at our Community Care Clinic will help prevent potential congestion in the emergency center. Obviously, anyone suffering respiratory distress, chest pain, stroke symptoms or other emergent conditions should go to the emergency center right away, but if you don’t need true emergency care, the Community Care Clinic is a great option People who need to be checked out for minor non-COVID illnesses or who may need an x-ray or a few stitches can receive that care quicker and more affordably at the Community Care Clinic than in the emergency center,” Dr. Black said.

Patients can also receive timely, non-emergent care at the Urgent Care Center at Phoebe East at 2410 Sylvester Road and the Urgent Care Center at Phoebe Northwest at 2336 Dawson Road. Primary care and virtual visits are other care options. Patients can schedule a visit to any Phoebe primary care clinic or can request a virtual visit appointment by calling 229-312-MYMD (6963).