Convention Centers Transform Into Makeshift Medical Facilities

FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers are working with cities to use convention centers to help with treating COVID-19 patients.

Convention Centers Transform Into Makeshift Medical Facilities

Convention centers, the heart of many communities’ business development, are now being used in another vital way. The Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA are coordinating efforts converting convention centers into makeshift medical facilities.

The 2.1-million-sq.-ft. Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, undergoing a major renovation project, was among the first to be retooled. The 4,000 on-site beds offer much-needed relief to area hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19.

The project was so successful, it became a model for other cities like Detroit. TCF Center, formerly known as Cobo Center, is currently being converted into a temporary care facility. It, too, will hold 1,000 beds and the state of Michigan will take control of the activities.

McCormick Place in Chicago, similarly, is now a key site in the battle against the coronavirus. The same is true at New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, which has pledged to be a site for recovering COVID-19 patients for up to 60 days. Atlantic City Convention Center is also now a medical site. Miami Beach Convention Center is eyed as another site.

Convention centers’ locations, generally downtown, and their open space—meant for trade shows—make them well-suited for conversions. Not only can thousands fit comfortably into the buildings, there is ample room to provide the 6 feet of required space between patients.

Elsewhere, convention center staff is, too, doing its part to help a society confronting its largest challenge in recent memory. Pasadena Convention Center employees volunteered to transport, set up and distribute meals created by Pasadena Center Operating Company, a catering company serving the convention center and Pasadena Civic Auditorium. 

“The PCOC is happy to help in this time of crisis,” says Michael Ross, CEO of the PCOC. “It has been a pleasure to work with the City of Pasadena, Rose Bowl Operating Company and our partners at Centerplate to coordinate and set the program in motion quickly. I am most proud of the number of PCOC staff that have stepped up to volunteer as this time of need.”

San Diego Convention Center is housing homeless citizens, including military veterans, to allow the city to maintain social distancing. It’s expected that 800 people will be relocated to the center.