Gearing Up for a Surge

Published in Hopkins Medicine - Summer 2020

Engineers, carpenters, painters and other facilities workers throughout the Johns Hopkins Health System worked at a frenetic pace to prepare Johns Hopkins hospitals for COVID-19 patients throughout early spring. 

They added ductwork and high-efficiency particulate air filters to convert regular patient rooms to ones with negative air pressure suitable for patients with the highly infectious coronavirus. They built anterooms where clinicians can safely don and doff their protective gear before treating patients diagnosed with COVID-19. They set up tents for COVID-19 testing and put up signs telling people which entrance doors are locked. 

Because of such efforts, by late April, The Johns Hopkins Hospital was on track to add negative pressure capability to as many as 800 adult and pediatric patient beds, says Gregory Bova, senior engineering project manager for the health system. The other Maryland and Washington hospitals — Suburban Hospital, Sibley Memorial Hospital, Howard County General Hospital and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center — added more than 200 COVID-19 rooms between them.  

When the coronavirus crisis ebbs, the modifications will remain, allowing hospitals to switch room pressure as needed. The anterooms will stay as well, says Bova. But there will be a key difference: “We’ll open the doors so people can easily go in and out.”