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April 10, 2020

Montgomery County to open East Norriton surge hospital, Blue Bell testing site for COVID-19

Federal government extends support for coronavirus testing

Illness Coronavirus
Montgomery County COVID-19 Surge Street View/Google

Montgomery County will open a surge hospital at East Norriton's Suburban Community Hospital and will relocate its COVID-19 testing site to Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell.

Montgomery County will expand hospital and coronavirus testing capacity in the coming week with new sites planned in East Norriton and Blue Bell, officials said.

More than 1,500 county residents have tested positive for COVID-19, including 49 people who have died, since March 7.

To prepare for a potential future surge of patients, the county is setting up a temporary 40-bed facility within Suburban Community Hospital in East Norriton Township.

The unit will be capable of treating both COVID-19 patients and others in need of medical attention. It will be staffed by volunteer physicians, nurses and other medical personnel from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Surge Medical Assistance Response Team.

Officials said the unit will supplement capabilities both in Montgomery County and across the region, providing additional space if other areas hit capacities.

“This will be a crucial resource in our efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 both in Montgomery County and throughout the region," said Dr. Valerie A. Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners.

Montgomery County also will be moving its COVID-19 testing site from Temple's Ambler campus to Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell.

The federally supported site in Ambler was shut down Thursday because of the weather. It had been slated to close permanently on Friday, along with 40 other federal sites across the United States, including South Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park site.

Following widespread backlash, President Donald Trump reversed his decision to end support these COVID-19 testing locations, whic receive funding through FEMA and the Department of Health and Human Services. 

The White House deemed the Philadelphia area a potential coronavirus hot spot earlier this week, prompting concern from Arkoosh about the expected curtailment of federal resources. 

The Blue Bell site will open April 15 and is expected to remain in operation through the end of May.

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