CHICAGO (CBS) — Patients are now being treated at the McCormick Place alternate care facility (ACF), a full week before the expected completion of construction on the site, which will have 3,000 hospital beds and rooms when finished.
City officials said it began accepting patients on Tuesday. Gov. JB Pritzker said there were five patients at McCormick Place on Friday, all of them “low-acuity” cases.
“The intention is for them to convalesce, to be watched as patients will be at these alternate care facilities, and they’ll be there for as long as it takes them to recover,” he said Friday afternoon.
Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said, while those patients might have been healthy enough to leave the hospital where they had been treated, they were not yet ready to go home to their families.
“Obviously we have the staff, and we have the personnel, and we have all the equipment to treat them there until they’re ready to make their final transition to home,” she said.
The ACF is designed to relieve pressure on traditional hospitals to prevent them from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
Ezike said while some individual hospitals might be at capacity as of Friday, none of the 11 regions into which the state’s hospitals are divided are full.
Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot toured the ACF on Thursday, as construction continues on the last of the rooms and beds at McCormick Place.
As of last Friday, crews had completed work on 2,250 beds and rooms at McCormick Place. At the time, Lightfoot said more than 400 medical staff had been hired for the site, and 300 had completed training.
"More than three" #COVID19 patients have begun treatment at Chicago's McCormick Place.
— Chris Tye (@TVTye) April 17, 2020
Officials have said McCormick Place will have 3,000 beds by April 24. Last week the facility received a total of 500 negative pressure tents from Oregon.
“This is an opportunity to provide negative pressure tents where we can care for patients with a variety of problems, and a variety of acuities. That’s different than any other site in the country,” said Dr. Nick Turkal, executive director of the McCormick Place alternate care facility.