Alternative treatment sites a possibility

DeWayne Bartels
Are Peoria's hospitals prepared if H1N1 hits their medical ranks? A special report examines that question is in this week's issue of the Peoria Times-Observer.

Alternative medical sites could become a reality if H1N1 Flu rises to the pandemic level in the Greater Peoria Area.

Greg Chance, director of the Peoria City/County Health Department, said, during the 1918-19 Spanish Flu outbreak in Peoria, alternative medical sites were opened to treat the ill, which outnumbered the number of hospital beds available.

On Oct. 23, President Obama signed a proclamation declaring the 2009 H1N1 Influenza a national emergency and opening the door to alternative medical sites if our hospital are overrun.

“The proclamation enhances the ability of our nation’s medical treatment facilities to handle a surge in H1N1 patients by allowing, as needed, the waiver of certain standard federal requirements on a case-by-case basis,” Obama said in a statement.

Chance said, last month, alternative treatment sites might become a reality.

“We have a great hospital system, but it will be a challenge if we have a serious flu outbreak,” he said.

In 1918, Peoria County Health Commissioner Dr. George Parker opened alternative emergency treating areas in vacant buildings.

The Red Cross opened hospitals manned by volunteers and whatever number of nurses they could muster.

Peoria, today, has about 1,800 hospital beds between the three hospitals. That, Chance said, might not be enough.