The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is scaling back the size of a field hospital being constructed inside the Suburban Collection Showplace convention center in Novi, Mich., intended to relieve suburban Detroit hospitals overwhelmed by the coronavirus outbreak.
An Army Corps official said Saturday that they are constructing 250-bed medical care facility inside the convention hall instead of the original 1,100-bed plan announced earlier in the week.
"Originally we were looking at up to 1,100. But things are changing very quickly," said Nick Zager, an Army Corps civilian who is chief of the corps' alternative medical care projects for its Detroit district office.
The fewer beds being planned for the overflow facility to treat COVID-19 patients comes as the number of newly confirmed cases of coronavirus in Michigan has started leveling off in recent days, dropping from a high point of 1,749 on Tuesday to 1,358, 1,158 and 1,279 in subsequent days.
The field hospital at Suburban Showplace will be operated by the Ascension Michigan health care system, which has it Ascension Providence Hospital campus less than two miles away along Grand River Avenue.
The Army Corps has built a similar medical care facility for COVID-19 patients inside Detroit's TCF Center convention hall. That 970-bed overflow hospital opened for patients Friday.
"It's been a challenge, but the good thing about a convention center is it's really kind of set up for this in that there's plumbing, there's sewers for different trade shows," Zager said Saturday during a media tour of Suburban Showplace. "It's really helped."
Like Detroit's riverfront convention hall, the exhibition hall in Novi is now a sea of partitions with portable hospital beds. Copper piping has been suspended from the ceiling to run oxygen into each individual private bed.
There will be a nurse station for every 25 patients, Zager said.
The Providence, R.I.-based multinational construction firm Gilbane Building Co., which has a Detroit office, is the primary contractor for construction of the field hospital at Suburban Collection Showplace, Zager said.
Gilbane is running shifts 24-hours a day to meet a April 20 deadline to complete construction of the medical facility, Zager said.
The state of Michigan has signed a six-month lease totaling $1.32 million monthly for 250,000 square feet of exhibition space at Suburban Collection Showplace, said Caleb Buhs, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.
This article was originally published in Crain's Detroit Business.