VA hospital prepares for possible influx of COVID-19 patients

VA hospital prepares for possible influx of COVID-19 patients

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The G.V. Sonny Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson now has 33 new beds to treat coronavirus patients if needed.

For more than two weeks the veteran's hospital has been equipped with ventilators, Personal Protective Equipment for staff and training to handle the deadly respiratory virus.

The Jackson facility is preparing for the possible influx of COVID-19 patients as the virus spreads with a specialized ward set up on the grounds.

Six Mississippi patients and two employees have tested positive but are not hospitalized.

“Some were tested in the community and then called just to let us know,” said VA Medical Center Director Dr. David Walker. “Then we have others that were seen in our emergency department that weren’t ill enough to come into the hospital, and now they’re at home and we’re checking on them.”

The two tents on the east side of the medical center can hold 20 beds and are equipped with a/c and heating and filtration.

“We have seen some patients come in with covid,” said VA Assistant ER manager David Lewis.

The 36-year-old said the staff is equipped with protective gear and is trained to care for the veterans if they must be hospitalized.

“We are certainly exposed to covid patients, and I’ve told my parents that I’ll see you in a couple of months when all this settles down,” added Lewis. “So we definitely want to emphasize staying away from the elderly as much as possible. Practice social distancing."

Veterans from New Orleans have been tested at the Jackson facility, but officials say the results were negative for the virus.

“They are moving their community living center patients to other VAs, and we will get some of those patients,” said Walker. “Now they are not positive. They will come here as nursing home patients in our community living center.”

The Jackson Medical Center is now equipped for the national VA projection of Mississippi reaching its COVID-19 peak around April 12th.

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