Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Tuesday the decision to temporarily close the emergency room at Provident Hospital came after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus and county officials were told the layout of the department would hamper social distancing.
“Last Friday it was determined that a member of our health care staff in the emergency department had [the coronavirus], and as a result, every health care worker in the emergency room had to be tested and, of course, quarantined,” Preckwinkle said at an unrelated news conference.
“So we sent our infectious disease people over to the emergency room, and they determined that it was impossible, given the configuration of the emergency room, to do social distancing,” Preckwinkle said. “And we decided that we needed to close the emergency room until [May 6th]. Hopefully, we’ll have it open sooner, to entirely refurbish that space.”
Preckwinkle’s comments provide more details on the decision-making that went into the temporary suspension of emergency services at the South Side hospital, which began Monday.
Health officials announced Friday they will work on ”reconfiguring the current flow of patients, increasing space between patients, and creating and equipping areas to function as isolation areas” because the hospital was not designed to handle “a large volume of patients or the challenges of a pandemic involving a highly contagious disease,” a release announcing the move said.
Medical personnel will be temporarily reassigned to Stroger Hospital or other places in the county’s health system to assist with the response to the coronavirus.
Patients who come to Provident during this time will be triaged and either directed to a nearby hospital, Stroger Hospital or seen by a physician at Provident.
Health care workers at the hospital protested the suspension of services in the emergency room Monday.
A spokeswoman for Cook County Health did not immediately respond to request for comment.