Watauga Medical Center adds 20 isolation beds

Moss Brennan, Reporter

As more and more people are diagnosed with the new coronavirus across the country and in North Carolina, Watauga Medical Center is preparing for more cases.

Vicki Stevens, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s media contact, said Watauga Medical Center is “licensed as a 117-bed regional referral medical complex, offering both primary and secondary acute and specialty care.”

Stevens said the number of beds available changes daily based on patient needs. Normally, Watauga Medical Center has 10 intensive care unit beds.

Recently, Stevens said, two additional hospital units were converted to add 20 more isolation beds, for a total of 30.

Additionally, a tent was set up in the parking lot of Watauga Medical Center, for possible future needs.

John Park
The tent in the Watauga Medical Center parking is a precaution for possible future needs.

“ARHS is working closely with local partners and agencies to monitor the daily changes with the COVID-19 pandemic and will adjust our response and capacity as needed in collaboration with those partners,” Stevens said. “ARHS’s Public Safety Department worked with Watauga County Emergency Services and Avery County Fire Marshal/Emergency Management to set up a tent in the parking lot at Watauga Medical Center in preparation for possible future healthcare needs.”

In North Carolina, as of March 30, there are about 3,223 ICU beds total with 745 empty and able to be staffed. There are 15,398 in-patient beds available with 6,235 empty.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, those numbers are calculated from 64% of hospitals reporting statewide.

Statewide, as of March 30, there are 1,307 cases in North Carolina and six deaths. Watauga County currently has five cases.

New York City is widely considered as the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the New York health department website, there are 59,513 confirmed cases in the state. New York City has 33,768 alone.