Chicago might have a few new field hospitals available as facilities across the city brace for a surge of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the coming weeks.
The International Medical Corps intends to set up 20 field hospitals across the country, including in Chicago, as part of a $35 million donation from the North Chicago drugmaker AbbVie.
Each field unit will be 810 square feet and can fit up to 10 patients beds, medical examination supplies, tables, portable sinks, power, lighting and HVAC units. The shelters will have the capacity to deliver urgent and outpatient care.
“Overall, this capacity is designed to address emergency department surge by offloading the urgent-care and routine outpatient populations to the shelters,” said Todd Bernhardt, spokesman for the International Medical Corps.
International Medical Corps will use nearly 300 medical professionals for these mobile hospitals across the nation. Each field hospital can be constructed in about six hours and withstand 80 mph winds.
International Medical Corps is a global humanitarian group that delivers medical and response services to those affected by conflict, disaster and disease. The humanitarian group will bring these field hospitals to Chicago as well as Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City and Puerto Rico.
The field hospitals will be attached to already functioning hospitals and the International Medical Corps has been speaking with several hospitals in Cook County, Bernhardt said. He couldn’t say how many of these mobile sites will be coming because it depends on the number of requests the humanitarian group receives.
There is no timeline of when these field hospitals will start popping up in the city either.
“However, as soon as the hospitals confirm that they’re ready for this equipment, we can deploy the emergency medical shelters quickly,” Bernhardt said.
The organization says the conversations about opening these field hospitals has been going on directly with hospitals in Cook County and not with city or state officials.
“But as discussions progress, we will be coordinating with city and state officials as appropriate,” he said.
The Chicago Department of Public Health didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Manny Ramos is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of issues affecting Chicago’s South and West sides.