Army Corps to Scope Out Potential Conversion Facility For Overflow Medical Care on MauiMarch 26, 2020, 4:31 PM HST · Updated March 26, 8:20 PM Wendy Osher · 15 Comments
The US Army Corps of Engineers in Hawaiʻi is moving forward with a FEMA mission to look at buildings across the state that could be quickly converted to alternate care facilities if medical needs outpace the current facilities available, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Should a request come from the state, through FEMA to convert these facilities, we’ll be ready to go,” said LTC Kathryn P. Sanborn, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Honolulu District., who noted that the Corps will be on Maui tomorrow to assess facilities on the Valley Isle for sites chosen by the state.
“Right now, the US Army Corps of Engineers is leaning forward to support the people of Hawaiʻi in potentially expanding health care capabilities amid coronavirus,” said LTC Sanborn.
“This mission is personal to us. These are our families, local communities, schools, churches, hospitals and more that are being impacted. We’re committed to working with our partners to see this mission through to completion,” said LTC Sanborn.
Sanborn said that the focus will be on sites that are flexible and adaptable. “If implemented, we’re confident that they will help to expand medical capabilities in the state successfully,” said LTC Sanborn.
To support this effort, the Corps formed a planning and assessment team on Monday, March 23, comprised of 10 volunteer Corps employees.
“We’re completing these assessments in coordination with the state, the counties, the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agencies and local stakeholders.
So far, the team completed two site assessments chosen by the state including the Hawaiʻi Convention Center on Monday, March 23, and the Neal Blaisdell Center on Wednesday, March 25.
There are a couple of different options floated including use of potential conversion facilities for non-acute care, or non COVID-19 patients. In that case, the Corps would make sure the facility is sanitary and has all the necessary functions of a health care site. If it is a site for COVID-19 patients, LTC Sanborn said, “what we have the design to do is look to create a negative pressure situation in the room, and then the rest of the equipment and staffing are provided by our partners.”
Should the state request and FEMA direct conversion of existing facilities for medical purposes, LTC Snborn said, the Corps stands ready to support. “As the nation’s engineers, the Corps has the willingness, capability and experience in construction to deliver this mission. While we’re working this mission here in Hawaiʻi, nationwide, and even internationally, the Corps is committed to coordinating together in a whole-of-government approach in the battle against COVID-19.”
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