A newly built surge hospital within the Georgia World Congress Center should be ready to take in any overflow of COVID-19 patients by this weekend.
WSB’s Sandra Parrish was among the few reporters who got a tour the facility with Governor Brian Kemp Thursday.
At the cost of $21.5 million, the basement of the GWCC now holds 200 hospital beds. Each is surrounded by handmade plywood walls which are capable of expanding to hold as many as 400 beds if needed.
Non-intensive care patients can be brought there to free up space at hospitals statewide.
Kemp called on Adjutant Gen. Tom Carden to lead the effort.
“This was a joint interagency public-private partnership. And it just shows what can happen when you bring the public sector and the private sector together for the good of all Georgians at the direction of our governor,” he tells Parrish.
>>LISTEN TO SANDRA PARRISH’S FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW.
Most of the money will be spent on medical staff. But how much the facility will actually be used remains a mystery.
So far Kemp says most hospitals, other than Albany, have not reached capacity with a peak date for cases in Georgia still two weeks away.
“That is the only place that I’m aware of in the state that’s had a bed-capacity issue. Everybody else, believe it or not, are below capacity. Even though their COVID patients are going up slightly, the demand for their bed spaces is continuing to go down a little bit,” he says.
Carden believes initial models predicting the number of hospitalizations may have been wrong.
“The models tell us today, even at the upper bands of ranges of the current model, we’re actually in pretty good shape right now. We weren’t in such good shape when the decision was made to build this facility,” he says.
Patients who are brought there will come via ambulance and be dropped at one entrance. Those who recover leave through a different door. There is very little co-mingling in between and no unapproved visitors.
“If you have something that happens when we do get to our peak time and our hospital bed capacity is nip-and-tuck, we’ll be glad we had a facility like this,” says Kemp.