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What is Torrance Memorial Doing to Combat COVID-19?

Today’s environment is consumed by news and updates surrounding COVID-19 -- from sheltering in place orders to public area closures. Life as we know it is currently far from normal. Torrance Memorial Medical Center is prepared and committed to caring for the local community as we all face the global health task of minimizing the impact and spread of COVID-19.

As we forge through April and head into May, Torrance Memorial continues its preparations for a potential increase in patient volume. Its team of doctors, nurses, emergency directors and administrators have developed house-wide plans to support the hospital through this rapidly changing situation.

Current Status at Torrance Memorial

Overall, we have seen an increase in the number of patients presenting with COVID-19 symptoms. The rate of admissions has remained stable for the first two weeks of April and manageable with the hospital’s existing ICU/bed capacity. COVID patients are in isolation, and all safety protocols set forth by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are being followed to reduce the spread of infection.

As of the week of April 15, the current predictive models suggest we may not see an exponential surge. If the community continues their efforts with social distancing, we expect to see a slowing COVID patient volume for the next several weeks. However, if we do experience a surge, the necessary preparations are in place to manage a significant increase in patient volume. According to CEO Craig Leach, two ancillary surge triage areas have already been implemented — including a tent erected adjacent to the emergency department and an additional tented area in the valet parking lot -- as a precautionary measure.

“We currently have enough bed/ICU capacity and can flex with an increase in patient volume,” he said. “Fortunately the size of our facility allows us the ability to significantly increase licensed bed capacity of 443 to 500 through flexibility granted by the state.”

“Our emergency department has set in place new protocols separating all suspected COVID-19 patients to ensure the safety of all patients needing emergency medical attention,” added Leach. “If you are experiencing any symptoms of stroke or heart attack, please call 911 immediately. Our emergency department is prepared and capable of safely handling all emergency needs during this current health crisis.”

Testing Update

Torrance Memorial has implemented an off-campus drive-through testing site, available by appointment only to patients who have a physician order. Testing began in late March, and testing availability has been increasing. If you have questions, contact your primary care physician (PCP). If you don’t have a PCP you can call the Torrance Memorial patient coordinator line at 310-891-6717.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Although there is a nationwide discussion about the availability of N95 masks, Torrance Memorial has adequate supply of PPEs, masks and gowns and continues to source new channels to secure additional supplies. Local companies such as Skechers, Boeing, SpaceX, Honda and many others have stepped up to help by either providing their supply of PPE or helping produce supplies. The hospital recently received its first shipment of locally-engineered and produced face shields from SpaceX for caregivers performing the highest risk procedures.

If you are interested in making a donation, please visit www.torrancememorialfoundation.org/donate to learn more about what is needed and how to make cash or in-kind donations.

Physician Office Visits and Telemedicine

People experiencing mild symptoms are encouraged to contact their primary care physician or local urgent care. Torrance Memorial Physician Network offices and many other community physicians are currently offering telemedicine services during this crisis. Medicare and many health plans are also temporarily providing telemedicine benefits to their patients during this time period. Same day telemedicine appointments are available. Please call 310-891-6717 to schedule a virtual appointment.

When should I seek medical attention?

You should get immediate medical attention if you have a fever, trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in your chest, or bluish lips or face. “If you’re sick, call your primary care physician,” recommends Torrance Memorial infectious disease specialist Dr. Eric Milefchik. “There are new options for remote or telemedicine available through many local physician offices and urgent care.”

The importance of proper handwashing, social distancing and sheltering in place are actionable recommendations we must follow in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “This is especially true for our seniors and those who have pre-existing medical conditions,” adds Dr. Milefchik. As a nationally-ranked hospital, Torrance Memorial strictly adheres to the clinical guidelines set by federal, state and local public health agencies.

Foundation at Work - Donations

The response from the community with donations to support Torrance Memorial’s efforts during this COVID-19 crisis has been overwhelming. From in-kind donations of PPE supplies, cloth masks for non-clinical staff, meals and snacks to 3D printing and laser-cutting services from SpaceX and Boeing, the hospital has witnessed the goodness of the South Bay community with a desire to help. Cash donations are also critical during this historic time, and nearly $1 million has been raised at the time this article went to print.

Like all facilities on the frontline, Torrance Memorial physicians, nursing staff and ancillary services are working through stressful and uncertain times. Staff has demonstrated selfless determination to care for patients and the community in the best possible manner.

Torrance Memorial remains grateful to the community for doing their part to shelter in place and practice social distancing. The Torrance Memorial family sends sincere thanks to all who have donated and supported them during this public health crisis.