NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 5, 2020) – Gov. Bill Lee attended an Alternate Care Site construction turnover ceremony at the Nashville General Hospital today.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District, and its contractor Turner Construction turned over the completed construction of the alternate care site at the Nashville General Hospital to Tennessee and Metro Nashville officials. This facility will care for 67 COVID-19 non-acute patients.
The project involved the demolition and renovation of the eighth floor of the hospital to create a functioning alternate care site for the treatment of non-acute COVID-19 patients. Additionally, construction of barriers and HVAC modifications were made on the second floor to convert existing space into a site suitable to treat COVID non-acute patients.
The team’s mission, in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency was to provide and treat prescreened non-acute COVID-19 patients, if additional hospital capacity in needed.
Nashville General will keep the facility on standby until Tennessee Department of Health and Metro Nashville officials determine the extra patient capacity is needed for the region.
This marked the second alternative acute care site completed in Tennessee as part of the nationwide federal and state efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a unique situation,” said Lee. “This is a hospital within a hospital and is the only facility of its kind out of 37 alternative sites that have been built across the country.”
According to Lee, the Nashville General alternate care site is a unique "hospital within a hospital model," designed to be able to activate and deactivate quickly, if needed, and to provide a more efficient approach to meet potential needs of the city.
It occupies two hospital floors, totaling 26,292 square feet and provides an additional 67 individual bed spaces to treat COVID-19 patients if the region begins to exceed their existing hospital capacity.
The Corps received the work assignment from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency and awarded the contract May 1, 2020. The construction cost is $7.2 million. New medical infrastructure consists of oxygen and nurse call systems. Nashville General Hospital will operate the facility. The hospital is working with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency to provide equipment and supplies.
The facility was built on the vacant second and eighth floors of the Nashville General Hospital. The eighth floor was totally demolished and renovated while the second floor was remodeled.
The Nashville General Hospital was constructed in 1972 and still operates as a functional hospital. The facility was considered for use as an alternate care site due to the existing infrastructure and its location in the metropolitan area.
The completed alternate care facility at Nashville General Hospital has 67 patient care treatment spaces, nurse’s stations, restrooms, pharmacies (which can be converted into patient care rooms) and a medical supply storage room.
The project started on May 1 and was completed ahead of schedule on May 29.
Gov. Lee, Nashville Mayor John Cooper, and other city officials toured the facility asking questions to Army Corps of Engineer officials and Nashville General Hospital directors.
Lee said Nashville General Hospital is the perfect fit for the care facility due to the states longstanding history and relationship with the hospital.
“I’m proud to be here, I’m proud of this facility and the service that this facility has provided to this community throughout its history,” said Lee. “We hope this will be an added ability to serve Tennesseans in a particular time when Tennesseans need to be served through this pandemic.”
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Maj. Gen. Robert F. Whittle, Jr., commander of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division said the care facility is competed and ready for use.
"This is what happens when we all work together at the Federal, State and local level. This is America at work,” said Whittle.
Whittle presented Gov. Lee, Mayor Cooper and Dr. Joseph Webb, Nashville General’s CEO a plaque with to commemorate the project.
An alternate care site is a facility that’s temporarily converted for healthcare use during a public health emergency to reduce the burden on hospitals and established medical facilities.
Under a mission assignment from the FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers coordinated and managed upgrades to the Nashville General hospital, and the Governor's Unified Command Group secured the lease agreement with Nashville General, as well as the wrap-around services for the ongoing maintenance and operation of the facility.
FEMA funds 75 percent of federal costs for the project while the state funds the other 25 percent.
Mayor Cooper provided a brief history about Nashville General and says the care facility is part of the state’s planning ahead process if a second spike of COVID-19 cases emerge.
“We are grateful to the leadership of Nashville General for stepping up to serve our neighborhoods,” said Cooper. “We are grateful to all of you for helping us address the complex challenges we have today.”
According to DeAnn Bullock, chief medical officer, Nashville General Hospital and the emergency department medical director, she worked closely with USACE engineers and designers from Turner Construction. She said the collaboration and working with the team has been a smooth process in terms of getting what the hospital needed clinically and meeting the staff’s needs.
Bullock said one of the nice additions to the floor is it has negative pressure abilities to keep the virus sealed off from room-to-room and can be outfitted with the appropriate medical supplies for quick response.
“When I walked on the floor I was absolutely amazed of the amount of transformation that had taken place within 30 days,” said Bullock. “It met what we envisioned as a great clinical area to take care of patients based on what we needed.”
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