Asante’s iCAR: A specialized facility trained to deal with outbreaks

ASHLAND, Ore.– Asante has set up its own specialized isolation unit to address the expected increase of Covid-19 patients. Last week, the hospital activated it’s Infection Control Assessment and Response or iCAR facility in Ashland.

While every hospital across the state is gearing up to handle an influx of coronavirus patients, Ashland Community Hospital may be more prepared than others.

“Ashland is uniquely prepared to do that as an iCAR facility,” said Sheila Clough, CEO of the Ashland Community Hospital.

The facility is a specialized unit rigorously trained under CDC and Oregon Health Authority guidelines.

“Special training and our organization have had to put a number of investments into our facility to be able to take care of an infectious disease outbreak,” said Clough.

Asante says the facility was originally set up for the Ebola virus outbreak. The facility is available for patients with mild to moderate illness. More serious cases will be sent to the intensive care unit at Rogue Regional Medical Center.

But the iCAR is unique in that staff must meet a list of requirements like patient transportation, having a laboratory or primary lab partner, and post-exposure management.

“Our health care professionals are really cautious about making sure that they are placed in negative pressure isolation rooms,” said Clough. “Our staff is using personal protective equipment.”

Coronavirus patients will be separated from the rest of the hospital to avoid chances of infection.

Currently, Ashland’s iCAR can hold up to 30 patients with some beds already in use. The hospital has about 300 employees serving the area, but that number is expected to rise as the number of patients grows. Clough says the amount of time each patient might spend at the facility is on a case by case basis with a minimum of a week for less serious illnesses to several weeks for more moderate cases.

“It’s important for our community to not fear that Asante Ashland is an iCAR hospital,” said Clough. “iCAR hopefully gives people the assurance that we are prepared to take care of our community.”

The facility is one of several in the state. Health care officials encourage people to continue isolating as best they can to lessen the number of patients being admitted into hospitals at the same time.

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