Prisma Health announced Wednesday, Jan. 27 it has developed regional COVID-19 recovery units that will serve all hospitals in the region during COVID-19 surges.
The health system also announced it will begin allowing some walk-in vaccine appointments again as long as vaccine supplies allow. Prisma had previously stopped allowing walk-ins to the vaccine sites. Staff is on-site to assist those 70 and older who need assistance registering for the vaccine.
The recovery units are in partnership with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, the South Carolina National Guard, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the South Carolina Hospital Association, according to Dr. Karen Lommel, Prisma Health physician lead for the regional COVID-19 recovery units plan.
Lommel said in a news conference that Prisma had been working with its partners to develop a “unique and cost efficient” model to share care sites in areas of greatest need during the pandemic.
Prisma Health Laurens County Hospital and Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital in Sumter will house the first of these units. Recovery units will be available for any hospital in South Carolina to transfer patients to help stem capacity issues that may occur due to spikes in COVID-19 cases.
The Laurens recovery unit opened Monday, Jan. 25 and the Tuomey recovery unit will open on Wednesday, Jan. 27. The Laurens unit will have 29 beds, while the Tuomey unit will have 12 beds with the potential to expand to 24. A couple of other recovery units are in the works including at Prisma Health Baptist Hospital in Columbia.
Officials at Prisma said this model could be replicated across the country if needed. Patients at the units will be cared for by a mix of staff, contracted workers and National Guard soldiers.
“This is not just about providing surge beds for COVID-19 patients. We also need to work together to ensure that all healthcare systems are able to continue providing all the levels of care for our communities — emergency and preventive care — without really overwhelming their systems,” Lommel said.
During the news conference, Dr. Saria Saccocio, Prisma’s chief medical officer for ambulatory services and the co-chair of the Prisma’s vaccine task force, said the health system had administered more than 82,000 doses of the vaccine as of Jan. 26. Saccocio said that about 142,000 people had pre-scheduled themselves for a vaccine appointment with Prisma.
Out of the requested 58,600 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Prisma had requested, Saccocio said they received only 19,500.
“This is a National Vaccine supply problem, not just Prisma Health problem, nor only South Carolina,” she said.
Find out more information on registering for the COVID-19 vaccine at https://scdhec.gov/covid19/covid-19-vaccine/covid-19-vaccine-appointments.
Register for a vaccine appointment with Prisma at https://prismahealth.org/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine.