Spectrum setting up triage tent to assess patients


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In an effort to test more severe patients with COVID-19 symptoms, Spectrum Health has opened an emergency preparedness triage tent outside of Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.

Health officials say their number one priority is caring for patients while also keeping staff safe.

“What we’re doing is allowing a self-selection of patients from the community that knows they feel unwell and are concerned about exposure,” said Dr. Nicholas Kuhl with Emergency Medicine at Spectrum Health.

With hand sanitizer around every corner and medical staff prepared for what’s to come, Spectrum Health officials say they’re ready to combat COVID-19.

“We feel like we’re very well prepared. We’ve been preparing for this for months with a rapid uptick of those preparations over the last week,” said Nancy Schwallier, the vice president of acute care at Spectrum Health.

So far, Spectrum Health has evaluated roughly 200 patients since Saturday for coronavirus symptoms. About a third of them have met the criteria for viral testing.


“This tent is very efficient,” Schwallier said. “If patients are deemed too sick for the tent, they are quickly moved into the emergency department for its adjacency and access to the emergency department.”

Officials add that this triage tent is only for patients who are experiencing severe symptoms. Those with mild symptoms will be sent away and given at-home care instructions, including self-quarantining and watching to make sure things don’t get any worse.

“It provides for the safest possible means to offer this service to the public, while keeping patients and our staff safe throughout, avoiding unnecessary exposure to COVID-19,” Kuhl said.

If you think you’re having symptoms for the coronavirus, information about what to do next can be found online.

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