CHICAGO (CBS) — Doctors at Rush University Medical Center are so worried about what may be coming next week that they’re making big changes now. The head of the emergency room brought a mixed report saying more sick people are arriving lately, but trend lines that compare Chicago to New York City have greatly improved in Chicago’s favor.

Still, the hospital is prepping for a possible spike in cases in the next 48 hours and is redesigning the hospital ahead of the weekend.

“Now we are at the point of the epidemic where we anticipate based on the analytics by our analytics team we might start seeing a surge of patients that are now getting sick,” said Dino Rumuro.


The main welcome lobby of Rush has been converted. It’s now clinical work spaces for non-COVID-19 cases. Hidden inside the columns of the waiting area are rarely used oxygen and gas access points and power sources for exactly such a scenario. It’s giving added space in the traditional emergency room that will treat those with COVID-19.

The virus’s trend line has improved.

“It looked like we were on a similar trajectory as New York City. Over the last couple days, we’ve seen cautiously optimistic that maybe we will avoid that scenario. In Illinois the social distancing kicked in in just enough time. In the last few days we’ve seen the flattening of that curve, but we’re not taking our foot off the gas pedal. That’s why we’re opening up spaces like this,” Rumuro said.

This includes adding computer terminal stations and adding space in unconventional ways, a feature from when the building was designed 15 years ago.

But today while some trend lines are promising, there are others less comforting.

“What’s been interesting over the last 48 hours is the number of very sick people that are coming in,” said Rumuro. “We hope we don’t peak. The idea here with the social distancing is to flatten that curve out and not seeing a peak. That’s what we’re hoping for.”

He said the shelter-in-place on a state level very much helped these numbers.