Field hospital plans on hold in Columbus


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — As the state continues to reopen, the field hospital inside the Greater Columbus Convention Center will remain in place for now.

Last month, the convention center’s main exhibition hall was transformed into a space where approximately 1,100 COVID-19 patients could be treated, if necessary.

So far, the site has not been needed.

“I’m happy because it means we have the capacity to take care of the patients we are seeing today,” said Dr. Robert Falcone, CEO of the Columbus Medical Association.

Dr. Falcone led the planning in turning the convention center into a surge site.

Although he said Central Ohio’s adult hospitals are operating at about 40 percent capacity, he is concerned that central Ohio may still see a rise in cases prompting the field hospital to be used.

“I am concerned and yes we may [use it], but I think that in all likelihood whatever happens, we will not begin to exceed our capacities,” Dr. Falcone said. “I’m optimistic that we can take care of anything we need to take care of, but time will tell.”

Dr. Falcone added he and his team continue to monitor the number of COVID-19 cases in the state daily. Dr. Falcone said if the field hospital is torn down, it will not happen before the end of May.

“I think we just need some time,” he said. “I think we need the month of May to really understand where we are and at that point taking it down is fairly well structured and organized and it will not be difficult.”

If the field hospital is deconstructed, Dr. Falcone said it can be quickly rebuilt.

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners agreed to contribute up to $5 million to the field hospital project.

According to Commissioner John O’Grady, $1.6 million dollars of that has been spent so far.

O’Grady said the commissioners are working with congressional lawmakers to recoup that money through the federal CARES Act.

“There’s an expectation that we’ll be able to recoup some of those costs, maybe all of those costs from the federal government,” O’Grady said. “We are still working on that.”

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