CINCINNATI - The emergency hospital set up at the Duke Energy Convention Center for a possible overflow of COVID-19 patients is being dismantled without ever housing a patient, officials said Monday.
Two weeks ago, Mayor John Cranley and local medical officials showed off a makeshift 150-bed care facility, and last week City Council approved up to $750,000 for operating it.
But there hasn’t been an overflow, and rented equipment is being removed and returned.
Speaking at Cranley's Monday COVID-19 update, City Manager Pat Duhaney said it cost "less than $250,000" to set up the site and the state would reimburse the city for it.
If needed, the site can be reactivated within seven days, officials said in a release.
“We monitor the number of COVID-19 cases each day and will be able to activate again quickly if needed,” said Dr. Dustin Calhoun, medical director of emergency management for UC Health.
“Returning rented equipment now, with the plans in place to quickly and effectively reactivate, is the right thing to do so we remain prepared to care for our communities while also being fiscally responsible.”
The Health Collaborative, regional hospitals, the city and the National Guard organized and created the Alternate Care Site.
The original plan called for treating up to 500 patients, but as modeling showed the Tri-State flattening the curve, that number was reduced to 150.
The Health Collaborative has developed extensive monitoring and modeling capabilities that make it safe to now increase the readiness window from four days to seven days, Calhoun said.
“It will in no way negatively affect our region’s ability to respond to any future community need,” Calhoun said. “I am confident that we are ready to respond if we see a surge in COVID-19 positive cases that require hospitalization and care beyond what our hospitals can safely provide.”
Speaking at Cranley's briefing, Calhoun said: "This in no way indicates that the community should change its practices or reduce the aggressiveness with which it is trying to fight COVID ... for us not to need the Duke Center, we need everyone to continue doing what they have been doing – to socially distance and keep good hygiene."
In other announcements:
- There have been three more COVID-19 deaths since the last briefing Friday, raising the city's total to 29, City Health Commissioner Melba Moore said. There were 17 new cases reported Monday, making the total 582. Moore said the 14-day average of new cases is 22.
- The racial breakdown of cases includes 163 white, 198 black, 128 unknown, 85 other, five Asian, and two Pacific Islander, Moore said. One refused to report.
- Cranley, a big "Star Wars" fan, marked "May the Fourth be with you" by issuing what he called "a funny order" to city residents: "Talk like Yoda once a day; I'm ordering you to." Cranley asked people to email ideas for other "humorous orders."
- The city will flush its more than 14,000 fire hydrants by working seven days per week over the next two months. Cranley said it's Public Services Recognition Week.