Feature Photo: Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas selected by the USACE to be an alternate care facility in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Image: TxDOT.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Fort Worth (Tarrant County) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has requested that all contractors with experience in build-out or retrofit of existing space into alternate care (AC) space (arenas, convention centers, dorms, hotels, etc.) send Capability Statements to: COVIDContracting@usace.army.mil.
This email address is ONLY for capability statements for firms interested in the “build-out and retrofit of existing space into alternate care facilities.
All other vendors, cleaning, disinfecting, supplies, etc. should promptly visit and register their firm at www.beta.SAM.gov, as part of the National Disaster Response Registry.
The USACE Southwestern Division first put out the call March 29 from the Fort worth District, which is providing providing planning and assessments for possible conversion of existing buildings into alternate-care-sites in Texas.
The actions, officials said, are being done under the direction of FEMA in support of the state.
“We are working closely with state officials and our partners to ensure this critical mission is met,” Brig. Gen. Paul Owen, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Southwestern Division, said.
Corps teams are providing initial planning and engineering support across the country to address possible medical facility shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Information pertaining to specifications and implementation of the alternate care sites is available on the web at https://www.usace.army.mil/Coronavirus/Alternate-Care-Sites/
On Friday, April 3, Strategic Partnerships Inc. reported the state of Texas, the Texas Military Department (TMD), and governor are setting up pop-up hospitals with the help of the USACE, Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), and county officials to increase health care capacity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas is the first of these sites.
USACE is planning to install 250 beds there with capacity for 1,400 beds total.
Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, USACE commanding general, said the plan begins with state governors.
Local leaders will pinpoint available buildings, such as hotels, dormitories, and convention centers, in a prioritized order. Once identified, the existing buildings will be leased by the state and handed over to USACE. The corps will take over and hire contractors in a short amount of days, Semonite explained.
The facilities will need negative pressure abilities to keep the virus sealed off from room-to-room, and be outfitted with the appropriate medical supplies based off a list provided by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), he said.
Each facility will be staffed with medical professionals hired by the state, Semonite said. Corps engineers produced a “standard design” to retrofit medical facilities, which was approved by both HHS and FEMA.
114 Possible Sites Nationwide
Joint Base San Antonio republished a March 30 Army News Service report that stated the USACE had identified 114 sites nationwide that could be retrofitted to assist local hospitals cope with COVID-19 related patient overflows.
Army engineers had assessed the majority of 114 facilities. That number will steadily increase as the virus spreads, Army News Service claimed.
Facilities such as convention centers, arenas, hotels, and dormitories are preferred because they already have electricity, water, fire protection, driveways, partitions and other usable features.
Therefore, fewer contractor trades are needed to retrofit them.
During emergencies, the USACE is the federal government’s lead public works and engineering support agency and given its extensive work in building medical facilities for its military stakeholders, it is uniquely qualified to tackle this engineering challenge.
More information on the Southwestern Division can be found at www.swd.usace.army.mil or by following @USACE_SWD on Twitter.