Valley Health Emergency Room staff members Melissa Lafferty, left, a nurse practitioner, and Michele Fitzgerald, right, a registered nurse, stand outside the triage tent at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital. The tent is being used as an Emergency Room screening area.

A triage tent outside Shenandoah Memorial Hospital in Woodstock is providing a way for Emergency Room staff to screen high-risk patients away from others.

The tent is divided into hot and cold zones, said Dr. Greg Byrd, vice president of medical affairs at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital.

In the hot zone, staff members are seeing people who are sick and have a significant chance of having the COVID-19 virus. That way, if they are infected, he said, they can be separated from others in the Emergency Room while receiving treatment.

In the cold zone, patients will have more minor injuries or symptoms that may still be serious but not indicative of a possible coronavirus infection, Byrd said.

“The whole idea behind the tent is that we want to continue to provide the full array of services,” he said. With the tent, he said, staff can “appropriately screen patients who might be at risk for giving the virus to other people.”

Those coming to the ER in an ambulance will bypass the triage tent, he said.

The tent, which Byrd said went up on March 24, is staffed primarily between the peak hours of 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. Overnight, he said there is more availability in the ER for the staff to see patients there.

“It’s been going really, really well,” Byrd said. “We’re trying to keep the community safe ... and limit exposure.”

Byrd said he knows of similar triage tents at hospitals in Winchester and Rockingham County, but that it isn’t offering the same intensive care services that the COVID-19 screening tent at Rutherford Crossing north of Winchester offers.

Patients there will be “screened and treated appropriately,” he said.

Byrd said Valley Health hopes that in the next couple weeks Woodstock, Page County, Front Royal and maybe New Market will have similar tents set up with intensive care for coronavirus patients.

Though no approved cure exists for COVID-19, Byrd said people with minor symptoms of the new coronavirus are likely to get better on their own as the virus runs its course.

“Most people who get COVID,” he said, “it’s going to resolve on its own within two weeks.”

Contact Josette Keelor at