By Kim McCarl, Assistant to the Director, Communications, Contra Costa Health Services
As part of local emergency preparations, Contra Costa County officials are working with Federal and state partners to convert the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond into a 250-bed medical station for COVID-19 patients.
Beds and medical supplies are being brought in by the National Guard this week to begin transforming the Craneway Pavilion, a large event center on the Richmond waterfront, into a temporary medical facility. The goal is to have the facility ready to receive patients by the third week of April, when health experts predict the Bay Area will see COVID-19 cases begin to peak.
“This is one more step to be better prepared for the anticipated COVID-19 surge,” said Candace Andersen, Chair of the Board of Supervisors. “We are very grateful for the cooperation of so many private and public entities that are making their venues available to serve the health needs of our community in this unprecedented crisis.”
The federal medical station would serve as an alternate care site for COVID-19 patients who don’t need ICU-level care. It would be used only in the event local hospitals lack capacity to handle a surge of COVID-19 cases. While equipment and supplies are provided by the Federal Government, the County would coordinate medical staffing of the site.
“Dedicated County physicians, nurses and other professional staff will provide vital medical care in this historic building to help prevent our local hospitals from becoming overburdened by an expected surge in patients” said Supervisor John Gioia, who represents the area where this site is located.
The County is also establishing other alternate care sites, including using hotels for homeless residents.
Contra Costa and other Bay Area counties recently extended a regional stay-at-home order through May 3 hoping that continued social-distancing measures will reduce the impact of COVID-19 on area hospitals.
The site will be secured and not open to visitors.
Managed by the Division of Strategic National Stockpile, federal medical stations are rapidly deployable caches containing beds, supplies, and medicines which can quickly turn a preidentified building into a temporary medical shelter during a national emergency.
Richmond Mayor Tom Butt stated that “The Craneway played an essential part in winning World War II. Today it is being repurposed to fight another global war. This facility will help not only our local communities but contribute to the overall effort to contain COVID-19.”
The Craneway Pavilion, located in the Ford Building, was a Ford Auto Plant from 1928 to 1956 and switched to assembling jeeps, tanks and military vehicles during World War II.
According to the Public Health Emergency webpage for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:
The Federal Medical Station (FMS) “is an HHS deployable healthcare facility that can provide surge beds to support healthcare systems anywhere in the U.S. that are impacted by disasters or public health emergencies. FMS are not mobile and cannot be relocated once established.
Each FMS comes with a three-day supply of medical and pharmaceutical resources to sustain from 50 to 250 stable primary or chronic care patients who require medical and nursing services. Staffing for an FMS can be provided using displaced local, regional or EMAC providers, or can be provided by the federal government (primary federal staff are Officers of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps). Potential roles for an FMS include the following:
- Provide temporary holding and care for patients to decompress a local hospital (increase beds available for patients with disaster-related trauma or illness
- Receive patients from nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities forced to evacuate due to the disaster
- Provide low acuity care for patients with chronic illnesses whose access to care is impeded due to the disaster
Because the equipment and supply cache does not include tents, each FMS requires an appropriate building of opportunity* in which to operate. Significant preparation is needed to employ FMSs in support of local, State, Tribal, and Territorial emergency plans. An FMS must be established in a structurally intact, accessible building with adequate hygiene facilities and functioning utilities (hot and cold potable water, electricity, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, and internet accessibility or capability).
A 250-bed FMS requires roughly 40,000 square feet of open space, while a 50-bed FMS requires about 15,000 square feet. In addition, wrap around logistical services must be coordinated and in place before an FMS can be operational. Some of these include a 10-12 person set up team, contracted support for patient feeding, laundry, ice, medical oxygen, and biomedical waste disposal. Fewer beds can be set up in smaller facilities, but building attributes and wrap around services remain the same.
Once a request for FMS has been approved, the cache of equipment and supplies will be delivered in 24-48 hours, after which 12 hours is planned for set-up. ASPR Regional Emergency Coordinators are the primary points of contact for FMS preparedness by State, local, Tribal and Territorial authorities. CDC Division of Strategic National Stockpile (DSNS) can assist with site surveys and training for receipt and set-up of FMSs.”