“Bed capacity is of course a fluctuating figure depending on the care needed by our patients on any given day. However, that is why our hospitals have been preparing for months to respond to any potential impacts of COVID-19.”

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Okaloosa County has three “alternate care sites” offering a total of 90 hospital beds if local hospitals run out of their own beds for COVID-19 patients.


County Public Safety Director Patrick Maddox shared that information with the County Commission during its emergency meeting last Tuesday to address various coronavirus issues.


The state Department of Health was working on procedures to get each of the county’s alternate care facilities up and running if needed, Maddox said. He added that each facility would have 30 beds, support a local hospital and be staffed with local hospital employees, as well as staff from other parts of Florida if necessary.


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Here are the county’s three alternate care sites:


• Ron Crawford Recreation Center, 1127 Hospital Road, Fort Walton Beach. This facility would support the 267-bed Fort Walton Beach Medical Center.


• Lifepoint Church, 400 S. Ferdon Blvd., Crestview. It would be support the 110-bed North Okaloosa Medical Center.


• Northwest Florida State College, 100 College Blvd., Building H, Niceville. It would support the 65-bed Twin Cities Hospital.


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Local hospitals “have available beds right now,” Maddox told the commission Tuesday morning, when there were 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county. As of Friday afternoon, the number had risen to 52 confirmed cases, according to state Department of Health data.


“Bed capacity is of course a fluctuating figure depending on the care needed by our patients on any given day,” Denise Kendust, spokeswoman for the FWB Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital, said in an email Friday. “However, that is why our hospitals have been preparing for months to respond to any potential impacts of COVID-19.


“While we have the bed capacity, staffing, supplies and equipment we need at this time, we continue to plan by accessing the resources, support and best practices across HCA Healthcare to help ensure we remain able to meet the needs of the communities we serve as the situation continues to evolve, including adding bed capacity to certain areas of our hospital if the need arises.”


At the North Okaloosa Medical Center, “Our leaders are working to identify areas within our hospital and affiliated clinic spaces that could be used for additional bed capacity as part of our pandemic response plan, including pre-op and anesthesia care units and surgery center,” Niki Bennett, the center’s spokeswoman, said in an email. “All of our rooms are single occupancy and could be converted to double-occupancy, if needed.


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“North Okaloosa Medical Center continually works to ensure preparedness for the support and treatment of all patients in our care, including those identified as potentially having COVID-19, as well as any laboratory confirmed COVID-19 patients. We are so proud of all the ways our team is carefully monitoring community needs and coming together to prepare.”


In response to a question from some local residents, Maddox on Friday said the Emerald Coast Convention Center on Okaloosa Island could be used as another alternate care site.


The center has never had to serve that role in the past, he said. The number of beds it could contain “is not readily available” and would depend on various factors including what type of isolation areas, medical equipment, service dog accommodations, and staging areas would be needed, Maddox said.


The center has 32,000 square feet of indoor space.