Evanston Hospital

NorthShore University HealthSystem is moving to cohort patients with Covid-19 infections to a single site, at Glenbrook Hospital, with forecasts predicting a surge in those cases in coming weeks.

As of April 1, Glenbrook Hospital, 2100 Pfingsten Road in Glenview, was temporarily being converted into NorthShore’s fever and respiratory infection hospital where NorthShore will preferentially admit patients with likely Covid-19 infection, said Jim Anthony, NorthShore University HealthSystem spokesman, this week.

As needed, NorthShore will also admit those patents to Evanston Hospital, 2650 Ridge Ave., depending on the volume and capacity at Glenbrook Hospital, Mr. Anthony said.

Currently the two campuses are caring for a number of people testing positive for Covid-19, as well as some under investigation as being infected by the virus.

The health system is creating an additional intensive care unit at Glenbrook, with predictions showing a need for expanded ICU capacity as the virus spreads. The move also allows specialized caregiver services for members of that group.

NorthShore and Evanston Hospital have played a central role in the Covid-19 crisis. Early on, the Illinois Department of Public Health highlighted NorthShore as the only private hospital system statewide with operational testing facilities.

As of this week NorthShore had processed  6,800 Covid-19 tests overall, with results coming back showing an 18% positivity rate. The NorthShore laboratory is now processing 600 tests per day, aiming to ramp up to 1,000-plus tests possibly later this week, Mr. Anthony said.

NorthShore has also established a Respiratory Evaluation Unit in the ambulance bay of Evanston Hospital’s Emergency Department. The unit, open to everyone, has 48 bays or private patient pods, complete with negative air flow in each pod, also heated, said Mr. Anthony. The unit allows a patient experiencing respiratory complaints and/or fever to be evaluated in a patient pod, allowing medical staff to evaluate patients “thoroughly yet quickly,” he said.

Mr. Anthony said the pod also separates people with non-infectious symptoms that could be related to Covid-19 from those patients coming to the emergency room for non-related Covid 19 complaints; plus, the huge space and air-flow helps protect patients and medical staff, he said in an e-mail response.

North Shore offers drive-through testing at a site located on the grounds of NorthShore’s office building on Woods Drive in Skokie. The testing is open only to those individuals who have completed a Covid-19 E-Visit through NorthShore University HealthSystem (northshoreconnect.org).

As of March 31, NorthShore personnel had swabbed about 650 patients at its drive-through site. The hospital has also been using the drive-through for its employees who are already established NorthShore patients.

Mr. Anthony said safety is a primary concern in the crisis.

“As we continue to monitor this situation we are working closely with federal, state and local public health officials to make sure we provide an environment that is safe for all of our patients, employees and the communities we serve. Our multidisciplinary team of clinical, administrative and operational leaders continue to evaluate our preparation and response plans daily so we are able to safely care for more Covid-19 patients and are available to meet the needs of our community,” he said.

Meanwhile, across the AMITA Health system, of which Saint Francis Hospital, 355 Ridge Ave., is a member, a total of 98 Covid-19 patients are being cared for as of March 27, said Olga Solares, Associate Vice President of Communications and Media Relations, to whom media questions were referred.

“This number has increased over the course of the week,” she said.

The hospital also held a blood drive on March 23, collecting a total of 53 units of blood.

That number can potentially help 159 patients, Ms. Solares said.

Bob Seidenberg is an award-winning reporter covering issues in Evanston for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.