Field hospital sites identified in Northern Virginia for expected surge

Sites have now been identified to establish field hospitals in Northern Virginia to accommodate an expected surge in hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

Though the first phases of the plans call for adding beds in existing hospitals or on hospital campuses, the third phase would establish new treatment facilities at the National Conference Center in Loudoun County, the Dulles Expo Center in Fairfax County, and at George Mason University in the City of Fairfax, according to a briefing Tuesday for the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.

The National Conference Center could host about 1,000 beds, while the other two facilities would start with at least 500 beds.

The next tier of sites that could be used to create beds to treat non-coronavirus patients includes the Hilton Garden Inn in Neabsco Commons in Woodbridge, Prince William County Executive Christopher Martino said Tuesday afternoon.

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Other facilities in that additional tier of identified sites include the Beacon Hall graduate student dormitory at the George Mason University Science and Technology Campus in the Manassas area, and additional facilities at the main GMU campus in Fairfax.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and state emergency response officials had said they were examining sites with the Army Corps of Engineers, but had not identified specific locations.

The state has not confirmed the location selections Martino detailed.

The identified sites all have relatively close access to regular hospital buildings.

Though the facilities have been identified, they would still require significant staffing, supplies and administration efforts.

Hospitals do not have extra doctors, nurses, technicians or other staff to work these additional facilities, so state officials are still looking into other staffing options through the volunteer medical reserve corps, National Guard or other means.

Testing, personal protective equipment and ventilator supplies also remain an overall challenge nationwide.

“We would have the same challenges in the alternate care facilities,” Martino said.

The latest forecasts project a potential peak of hospitalizations in Virginia over the next two months or so.

Some hospitals across Virginia have already moved to add extra beds on their campuses or to identify other locations where beds could be added, including Mary Washington Healthcare in Fredericksburg.

Regional elected leaders issued a joint statement Tuesday reiterating the need for everyone to stay home, unless absolutely necessary, since that is the easiest way to save lives.

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