COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Medical experts say, based on current projections, the Greater Columbus Convention Center may be used as an external surge site to treat COVID-19 patients by the end of the month.
“We think, if the surge hits as predicted, it will hit somewhere in the middle of April,” said Dr. Robert Falcone. “By the end of April, if it continues as predicted, we will have stood up this facility.”
Falcone is the CEO of the Columbus Medical Association, which has led the planning for the surge site.
“We are in pretty good shape from the standpoint of planning,” he said.
Falcone told NBC4, as of Wednesday morning, Central Ohio’s hospitals are about 50 percent full as a result of their forfeiture of elective surgeries and procedures. The region’s intensive care units are half full as well.
If the hospitals and ICUs fill up, the health systems will then make use of space that is not typically used for patient care. If that reaches capacity, then the care site will be opened at the convention center.
Falcone said the site can be constructed in 72 hours and treat roughly 1,100 patients.
“The patients that will be there are those that are too sick to go home, but not sick enough to be in the hospital and they will come from a hospital or emergency department,” he said.
A surge site at the convention center would be staffed by doctors and nurses from OhioHealth, Mount Carmel and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
“It would be in the exhibition space, which is perfectly suited,” Falcone explained. “It has all the utilities and all the other things we need.”
Patients may also be treated in the convention center’s second floor ballrooms and meeting rooms.
“We have been planning for this for some time,” Falcone said. “We will get through this.”