SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose is prepping “surge tents” to handle a possible influx of coronavirus cases.

The tan-colored tents are currently erected on the southern border of the hospital’s property, facing Samartian Drive, directly adjacent to the emergency room’s paramedic entrance and the public sidewalk.

The footprint of the two identical structures measures 15 feet by 30 feet and stands about 10 feet tall in the center. Each one is large enough to handle up to six patients at a time while still allowing the minimum “six foot exclusion zone,” the distance health officials say is sufficient to prevent human-to-human transmission of the disease.

“To keep them safe and make sure they are not co-mingling together,” said Mark Brown, Chief Nursing Officer for Good Samaritan Hospital.

The surge tents, which are owned by the hospital, are typically brought out during flu season. But Brown pushed to erect the tents early in light of the steady increase of COVID-19 cases in the Bay Area.

“We’re taking an overabundance of caution to do the right thing, and we feel for our patient population and for our community, this is the best way to serve them,” said Brown.

The inside of one of the surge tents at Good Samaritan Hospital (CBS)

Tents have become a key part of the strategy in restricting the movement of the virus into hospitals around the world. This week alone, tents were seen outside hospitals in Italy, Central Washington, Coeur d’Alene in Idaho, and Roseville near Sacramento. South Korea has even implemented drive-through testing centers that collect nasal swabs and record temperatures of more than 300 patients per day, as they sit in their vehicles.

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On February 4, Good Samaritan Hospital sent five workers home to self-quarantine for two weeks when a confirmed case of coronavirus entered the hospital. The workers have since returned to duty.

The surge tents at Good Sam will allow nurses to take patients’ temperatures, collect samples if needed and fill out paperwork, outside of the main hospital, and hopefully prevent a repeat of the February incident, Brown said.

The vinyl material and metal frame of the surge tents can be easily disinfected.

“Bleaching these down and cleaning these properly, is a much easier process than having to clean an entire hospital,” said Brown, “Don’t want to have to use it. But we want to make sure that we are prepared in case anything does happen.”

Good Sam is awaiting final inspection from the fire department and various permits from local and state government agencies. Once complete, the surge tents could be operational within a day of receiving the approvals.

The tents were paid for with grants from FEMA.

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