Plans coming together for surge sites

ABERDEEN, S.D. ( – City and county officials both heard an update on COVID-19 preparations this week, including plans for a surge site to accommodate additional patients at both Avera St. Luke’s Hospital and Sanford Aberdeen Medical Center.

The surge site will be used to provide additional beds for patients after the hospitals reach capacity.

Brown County Emergency Management Director Scott Meints provided reports to the Aberdeen City Council Monday and the Brown County Commission Tuesday. He was joined by Emergency Operations Center Incident Commander JR Huebner, who is also a battalion chief for Aberdeen Fire & Rescue.

Meints said plans are coming together for a surge facility that can be used by both Sanford and Avera, if needed. That peak is expected in June, but officials hope to have this surge site ready by mid-May.

Meints said the projected combined peak need at both hospitals is 287 beds in early to mid-June. Ashley Erickson, CEO of Sanford Aberdeen, told members of the city council that the projected need takes into account the average need for patients at both hospitals, plus the expected demand from COVID-19 cases.

While hospitals have made adjustments to accommodate more patients, Meints said additional beds are needed locally.

“We have determined we are 36 beds short in our hospitals,” he said.

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