Second phase of McCormick Place field hospital completed

Second phase of McCormick Place field hospital completed

The McCormick Place field hospital in Chicago can now house more than 2,200 COVID-19 patients, officials announced Friday.

The second phase of construction added 1,750 hospital beds to the existing 500 beds at the alternate care facility. It also added 43 nursing stations and fully built-out support rooms for medical supply storage, pharmacy and housekeeping services.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot praised the quick completion of the second phase, which came one week after the first 500 beds were installed. She said no patients have been admitted yet, reiterating it is intended to support the existing hospital infrastructure.

“The goal here is to be ready when the first patients come,” Lightfoot said.

A total of 3,000 beds are expected at the field hospital by the end of the month.

Dr. Nick Turkal, who is overseeing the site, said they have hired over 400 healthcare professionals, including nurses, doctors, social workers and pharmacists. He said training is underway, with the expectation to have them ready to treat patients at the site by mid-week.

“When it’s time, we’re going to be ready,” he said.

Turkal also said they recently received 500 “negative pressure tents” from Oregon, which will provide a higher level of care to moderately ill patients.

McCormick Place is the largest of several alternate care facilities being prepared in Illinois.

Officials said work repurposing the now-closed Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park, the old Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin and MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island is expected to be completed by the end of April. Work on Vibra Hospital in Springfield is expected to be completed by early May.

Additionally, Lightfoot pushed back Friday against comments by Gov. JB Pritzker that organizers should consider canceling any large events planned this summer. She said it was too early to be discussing whether such events should continue.

“I understand why the governor may have said that in passing, which is what I took the comments to be,” she said. “But we clearly haven’t had any substantive conversations about something that might happen in July or August.”


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