As the number of infected people with COVID-19 nears 2,000 in Florida, field hospitals are being deployed in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, as well as the cities of Orlando, Ocala and Jacksonville.
Two field hospitals are being prepared at the Miami-Dade Youth Fair grounds in Miami. The Miami-Dade County Office of Emergency Management is converting an existing event tent at the fairgrounds to accommodate up to 250 hospital beds, according to Jenny Lopez, public information officer with Miami-Dade County. Another tent was provided by the state, but it is unknown how many beds it could accommodate, she added. Floors are being installed, but Lopez could not confirm if the tents would include specialty facilities such as isolation rooms.
“Everything is fluid and not everything has been decided yet,” Lopez said, adding that no completion date has been set yet.
Jacksonville is setting up a 250-bed federal field hospital at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. The city currently has a drive-thru testing center set up at that site. Mayor Lenny Curry said setup began March 23 and is being prepared for use, only if needed.
“This is only a precaution, getting ahead of what could happen,” he said during a March 24 press conference. “This is an asset we have in our region to use, if needed.”
Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Chief Keith Powers said the city’s hospitals are “nowhere near capacity” and that demand is being monitored on an hourly basis.
Some private hospitals are also preparing temporary treatment space in order to have extra capacity at the ready.
Al Fernandez, president of contractor ANF Group, said his company is preparing 25,000 sq ft of open space in the Graduate Medical Education building at Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines, Fla., to accommodate “non-compromised” patients. “This would free up beds in the hospital for compromised patients,” he said.
The company also recently added negative-air capacity to rooms at Broward Health’s Imperial Point facility in Fort Lauderdale.
Fernandez says that many health-care providers are delaying interior work at hospitals, unless it is deemed critical. However, projects conducted outside of operational hospital areas are continuing. Among its current projects, ANF is building a standalone emergency department in Miami for HCA Healthcare.
“On all of our exterior sites, the effect on us, so far, has been minimal,” he said.