The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) surprised us all, especially our nation’s hospital system which was not prepared for a pandemic. Hospitals throughout the United States, especially in New York State, are overwhelmed with patients with Coronavirus symptoms and can’t provide them beds. “We’re inundated” said Tara Clampett, Intensive Care Unit, Registered Nurse with Long Island Community Hospital. “Amajority of them are going into respiratory distress and are being intubated. Even if they get stable, many aren’t stable enough to leave.” She says that with many Coronavirus patients coming to the hospital, this leaves less space for patients with other health conditions, so less attention will be given to their health issues. The hospital did all it could do to create more patient space, but it is not enough. To relieve the burden of New York State hospitals, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, is collaborating with other agencies to convert existing buildings into alternate care facilities to provide hospitals extra space to care for Coronavirus and non- Coronavirus patients. “What the Army Corps is doing is making me hopeful. We are over- whelmed and we can use all the help we can get,” said Clampett. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is performing this work as part of a national Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mission. The Army Corps is working in collaboration with FEMA, Department of Defense, and other federal, state and local partners. In New York State, this work is considered especially critical. The state, primarily New York City, is considered the epicenter in the Na- tion. There are more virus cases and deaths in the state than anywhere else in the Nation. At the time of this article’s publishing there were 222,284 cases and 14,636 deaths. To accommodate all of these cases, it is estimated that the state may need more than 100,000 hospital beds for Coronavirus patients, com- pared to the state’s current capacity of 53,000 beds. To help New York State hospitals deal with this, Army Corps’ New York District volunteers are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are locating existing buildings that can be converted into these alternate care facilities and then they are designing and constructing them. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers comes to the aid of hospitals Coronavirus Pandemic By JoAnne Castagna, Ed.D.
Four key locations have been identified and they include the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, Westchester County Center in White Plains, New York, Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York and the State University of New York in Old West- bury, New York. Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York City The first alternate care facility to be constructed - and completed in one week - was the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, located in midtown New York City. The center is a well-known location for expos and business events. The center’s great size of 1,800,000-square-feet, seemed like a good location for an alternate care facility. The Army Corps converted the center’s multiple floors of space into an alternate care facility, providing beds for more than 2,500 Coronavirus and non-Coronavirus patients. The facility was designed and constructed to resemble a hospital setting. There are rows of individual patient care units or rooms that include beds, privacy curtains, medical supplies and equipment. In ad- dition, there is overhead lighting, restrooms, showers, nursing stations, food service and an computer station, powered by multiple generators. While touring the center, Chief of Engineers Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite said that in order to quickly and efficiently get these centers up and running for a peak in Coronavirus cases, a “super simple solution” had to be applied. He said the Javits Center’s design will serve as the model for other care facilities being constructed throughout the nation. Charles Paray, Lead Architect, New York District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said, “I volunteered to work on Jacob Javits and the other alternate care locations because I thought I could help make a difference.” Westchester County Convention Center,White Plains, NewYork The center is known for its large gatherings for basketball tournaments and live shows. The Army Corps is converting 60,0000 square-feet of the center into an alternate care facility, providing 110 beds for Coronavirus patients. Fifty-four of these beds will be located inside the center and fifty-six will be located in a temporary tent structure located in the center’s parking lot across from the center. Both areas will be designed and constructed to resemble a hospital set- ting. There will be rows of individual patient care units or rooms that will include beds, privacy walls, medical supplies and equipment, and the rooms will be equipped to provide oxygen/medical gas for patients. In addition, there will be overhead lighting, restrooms, showers, nurs- ing stations, food service, and an computer station, powered by mul- tiple generators.
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