TCF Center to hold 900 patient beds as alternative care facility

TCF Center Is New Name for Detroit’s World-class Convention Center
Posted at 1:27 PM, Mar 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-29 13:47:15-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Sunday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer approved the TCF Center to be used as an alternate care facility as the number of COVID-19 cases in Michigan continue to rise and local hospitals are running out of room.

The conversion of the convention center will be funded by FEMA and carried out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This news comes just a day after the North American International Auto Show was officially canceled. It's the first time in modern history the auto show has been canceled. The last recorded cancellation of any incarnation of the auto show in Detroit was during World War 2.

RELATED: 2020 Detroit Auto Show canceled; TCF Center to turn into hospital during COVID-19 outbreak

"The State of Michigan is working around the clock and doing everything we can to slow the spread of the coronavirus," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in statement released Sunday afternoon. "We are proud to partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, and the TCF Center to expand capacity in Detroit. By mobilizing quickly to construct a large alternate care facility in Detroit, we can help save lives."

Instead of the hottest new vehicle and mobility trends filling the floor, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says 250,000-square-feet in the TCF Convention Center will be converted into 900 patient beds in individual pods along with space for medical personnel.

The U.S. Corp of Army Engineers say the conversion of the TCF Center will include two separate floors and patients will be segregated based upon severity of illness.

There are six other locations being considered as alternate care facilities, including the Pistons practice facilities and two dorms at Wayne State University.

Meanwhile, Delta is offering free round trip flights for volunteer medical workers coming to Michigan to help staff these new sites.

While the growing pandemic means the cancellation of the auto show and the loss of half a million dollars in economic impact, it’s providing much needed relief for local hospitals.

Chair Doug North is looking ahead to next year.

"We’re hopeful that people are healthy, people can travel next year and that we can not only exceed what we had anticipated in 2020 but reach all new heights in 2021," North said.

A statement from the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority and TCF Center reads:

These are extraordinary times for our state and nation. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, TCF Center has been designated by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, State of Michigan and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a temporary alternate care facility in Detroit.

Mobilization has already begun and construction will be performed by the TCF Center workforce and union labor. The temporary site is planned for COVID-19 patients, relieving the burden on local hospitals treating patients with COVID-19. With guidance from FEMA and other officials, the site will be designed in the most efficient way possible in order to allow the convention center to resume normal operations in the weeks ahead when this crisis eases.

In addition, we have not lost sight of our clients. In collaboration with the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, we are working closely with our customers to reschedule events at a time most beneficial to them.

As we navigate this unprecedented time together, TCF Center is fully prepared to do its part in supporting our residents and community. We stand in awe of the tireless and dedicated healthcare workers and first responders who are true heroes of our time.

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