Howard government announces plan with county hospital to manage possible surge of coronavirus patients

Howard County General Hospital and Howard County government announced a surge plan Friday to handle the potential increased spread of the coronavirus, including repurposing spaces within the hospital to create isolated areas.

The surge plan targets three goals, according to County Executive Calvin Ball: adding physical capacity to the hospital, tracking streamlining and purchasing vital equipment, and identifying and deploying staff to the hospital in Columbia.


“It has been an enormous undertaking to engineer, convert and provide staffing for the spaces we need to treat COVID-19 patients at Howard County General Hospital, and it has been a true team effort to develop and execute these plans,” hospital President Steve Snelgrove said in a statement.

Howard General previously had 255 beds with 16 intensive care beds. With the implementation of the surge plan, there are now 30 critical care beds with 40 total expected to be available by the end of the month. The hospital has 110 beds available for non-critical coronavirus patients.


With the surge plan, Howard General can use tents set up outside the hospital’s main entrance to create 47 more beds for coronavirus patients.

According to the county, Howard General has used 15% of available ventilators and no more than 20% of their capacity for coronavirus patients as of Friday.

The county also announced that local hotels and facilities have been identified if needed for overflow. They did not specify the spaces or where they were. In a worst-case scenario, Howard County Office of Emergency Management officials said Howard Community College’s gym could be used.

Earlier this week, Maryland officials reopened Laurel Medical Center in Prince George’s County — which was operating as an outpatient center — as part of the state’s preparations for a potential surge in infected patients.