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Piedmont Atlanta Hospital Opens New Tower Early to Prep for COVID-19 Surge

By Mandy Roth  
   April 07, 2020

New facility expands bed capacity by 132 beds, with 64 designated ICU beds.

As Atlanta area hospitals prepare for a surge of COVID-19 patients, Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, part of Piedmont Healthcare will open a new patient tower early, significantly expanding bed and ICU capacity, if needed.

Originally scheduled to open in August, the new Marcus Tower will open on April 13, "in an effort to serve the community and make more intensive care unit (ICU) beds available during the COVID-19 pandemic," according to a news release.

The tower offers three ICU and acute nursing units, adding a total of 132 additional beds, with 64 designated as ICU beds, according to Piedmont. The new units will house both COVID-19 positive patients and non-COVID-19 patients.

“By opening this part of the tower early, we are increasing capacity at a critical time when our community needs it the most,” said Piedmont Atlanta Hospital CEO Patrick Battey, MD. “Getting these beds ready for patients who may need them during the COVID-19 outbreak was the right thing to do, and I am proud of the staff at Piedmont and our partners on the project who made it happen.”

As of April 6, there were 7,558 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia with 1,393 (just over 18%) hospitalized, and 294 deaths, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Some 1,053 of those cases are in Fulton County where Piedmont Atlanta Hospital is located. While some Georgia counties had already issued orders for residents to stay at home, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued a statewide shelter-in-place order that went into effect only four days ago on Friday, April 3, and runs through April 13, 2020.

Because work on the tower was ahead of schedule, the hospital was able to advance the timeline,  according to Kevin Brown, president and CEO of Piedmont Healthcare, a private, nonprofit organization, which includes 11 hospitals. The initiative to accelerate included advance shipping of equipment from manufacturers, crews working extended schedules, and efforts by Piedmont Atlanta staff members to create plans, participates in tours and drills, test equipment, and conduct training.

“We are increasing capacity at a critical time when our community needs it the most.”

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.

Photo credit: Photo Courtesy of Piedmont Atlanta Hospital

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