CHICAGO (CBS) — The first beds are now in use at the McCormick Place field hospital in Chicago. In just 26 days the facility was turned into an alternative care facility for people with mild to severe cases of COVID-19.
The first patients arrived Tuesday, and CBS2 was told there were five patients there Friday. These patients are not on ventilators or in need of ICU care. All are spending the night at the place usually home to auto shows and conventions that has become 2.6 million square feet of triage.
In less than four weeks McCormick Place was flipped, reconfiguring the floor plan and the air flow into something designers say is unprecedented in modern medicine.
Think of it as pod after pod of nursing stations.
“There are 15 tents surrounding a central nursing station which is modeled after a typical hospital setup. This allows for continued close monitoring of patients,” said Clinical Chief of Staff Dr. Christina Bratis.
It is designed to offload patients and pressure on local hospitals. One of the keys to care is quickly removing the air discharged by COVID patients.
“Each of these tents is equipped with negative pressure filters and a fan that centrally exhausted to the exterior of this building,” said Major General Robert Whittle with the Army Corps of Engineers.
But how does one enter the building? What patients get sent in there?
“We’re still working through that process,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “The first patients were admitted earlier this week.”
The state says they are all so-called “low acuity” COVID-19 patients coming from hospitals that are at capacity.
The people at the facility have not been green lit to go home and have no been given the green light to leave the hospital either. They come to McCormick Place as a midpoint, but officials at McCormick place stress if they needed to have patients with more intense symptoms they could be handled there as well.
From city to state to the Army Corps, they all say they are willing to share all their plans and best practices with other cities and medical outlets around the world to help replicate the design.