HUNTSVILLE, Ala – FEMA has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assist in pop-up hospital efforts to free up bed space as COVID-19 hospitalizations climb in hot zones like New York City.
Among the first to answer the call were roughly 30 Huntsville-based engineers. The team has been working non-stop, most from their own homes to develop temporary hospital sites.
“The idea is to get out ahead of the hospital bed shortages. That’s a different situation depending on where you are located in the country,” Said Wade Doss, the Director of Engineering at the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center in Huntsville.
The team first created a very specific and detailed check-list for states and cities to determine if a potential hospital site could be supported at a given venue.
Convention centers, athletic stadiums, and hotels are all under consideration at this moment. The focus for these temporary hospitals are in locations where hospitals are at crisis levels. Mostly mega-cities and in states with very large COVID-19 spikes.
Some of these hospitals are NOT for COVID-19 patients. The idea to move other patients to these temporary hospitals. However, that might not be the case for all locations.
The team in Huntsville is working sunup to sundown.
“Putting these concept designs together, drafting equipment lists, drafting schedules, draft performance work statements,” said Doss.
The team has worked disaster simulations in the past, but Doss admits this is uncharted territory.
Doss says all locations are up to code, but because time is of the essence.
“We are not trying to design a Cadillac here. We are trying to get the minimum done so we can create beds to combat the shortage across the country,” said Doss.
Lt. General Todd Semonite, the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told 60 Minutes that the hospitals have to be “good enough” to meet the demand of patients.
The first temporary hospital opened in New York City on Monday. More are expected to open in cities like Seattle.