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Emergency hospital for St. Louis area COVID-19 patients set to stay open into June

Emergency hospital for St. Louis area COVID-19 patients set to stay open into June

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First facilty being made for overflow of coronavirus patients in St. Louis

U.S Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District work to transform the Quality Inn in Florissant to a facility for overflow coronavirus patients on Friday, April 10, 2020. They are hoping to complete the renovations and construction by midnight Easter morning. Photo by Rachel Ellis,

JEFFERSON CITY — A hotel in north St. Louis County that was converted into an emergency hospital to treat non-acute COVID-19 patients is expected to remain open until at least mid-June.

Missouri Department of Public Safety Director Sandra Karsten said the former Quality Inn in Florissant is housing three patients, with a staff of 30 personnel.

Two weeks ago, there were 11 patients in the makeshift hospital, which was retrofitted in April to serve as many as 100.

In all, there have been 27 admissions over the month the alternate-care center has been open.

The small number does not mean the state plans to shutter the leased hotel.

“The plan right now is to keep it operating for a period of time, probably through the middle of June,” Karsten said.

Similar facilities in other states have seen light use.

In Wisconsin, a hospital at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in Milwaukee had seen no patients after opening April 23. It has room for 750 patients.

An analysis by National Public Radio found the Corps of Engineers spent more than $660 million to build the emergency field hospitals, many of which did not treat a single patient.

The overflow hospitals were opened as a safety valve for a possible strain on existing medical capacity.

Costs for the conversion in Florissant were not immediately available.

Initially, the plan called for staffing by members of the Missouri National Guard. But Karsten said the oversight and patient care is now shared by members of the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency.

The building at 55 Dunn Road, which normally had 130 rooms, was retrofitted as a temporary, emergency hospital in just five days by to serve patients “with mild or no symptoms.”

The state had initially considered large venues, like the Dome at America’s Center in downtown St. Louis or arenas at the University of Missouri.

The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 has dropped statewide in the recent days. On Monday, the Missouri Department of Public Health said the 749 currently being treated was down by 75 the day before.

The 119 people on ventilators was down by 18 from the day before.

Of the state’s 10,795 hospital beds, 2,156 were available, the department said.

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