Chicago hospital prepares for surge of COVID-19 patients

Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a dire warning Thursday as coronavirus cases surge in the Chicago area, and hospitals are getting ready for the worst.

The lobby entrance at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago is called the Brennan Pavilion. Starting Friday, it will open for patients that have illnesses not related to coronavirus. The hospital is prepping in case there’s a surge.

The state of Illinois has seen its biggest jump in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. Illinois now has more than 2,500 people infected and 26 people have died.

Mayor Lightfoot says hospitals in Chicago could soon be overwhelmed.

“We could be expecting upwards of 40,000 hospitalizations in the coming weeks,” the mayor said. “That number will break our healthcare system."

That number is alarming, but Rush is prepping for just that.

The new RUSH University Medical Center, in Chicago, Illinois on JANAURY 17, 2013 (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Rush has always been prepared for handling cases of highly infectious diseases. The hospital is one of 35 federally designated hospitals to deal with infectious diseases.

Rush has created a “Coronavirus Triage” for anyone driving themselves – or being brought in an ambulance – to the hospital that has the virus.

The hospital also has a drive-thru for COVID-19 testing.

Now, Rush has unveiled its main lobby has been converted into a clinic to handle patients that have minor ailments.

“We anticipate a large amount of patients coming to the emergency department. In that case…we don't want them exposed [to COVID-19, so] we bring them to this area,” said Dr. Dino Rumoro, dean of Rush Medical College.

Rush also says they have recently seen a number of patients with upper respiratory symptoms. Those patients think they have coronavirus, but many of them do not.

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