Gov. Kemp to reopen Georgia World Congress Center to coronavirus patients next week

Gov. Kemp to reopen Georgia World Congress Center to coronavirus patients next week

ATLANTA — With the surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the state, some Georgia hospitals are at or near capacity.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot has learned the temporary hospital will be able to take up to 120 mild to moderate COVID-19 patients starting Monday.

“These additional hospital beds will provide relief to surrounding healthcare facilities while providing top notch care for patients. My administration is laser-focused on expanding hospital surge capacity while working to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Georgia,” Gov. Brian Kemp said in a news release Monday.

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Georgia’s positivity rate for COVID-19 is now 10.9%. That’s the highest it’s been in two months. A record 3,200 people are being treated for coronavirus in Georgia hospitals.

The Georgia World Congress Center acted as a temporary hospital earlier this year when the COVID-19 pandemic first began. It took in 17 patients while it was open and was last used around the end of May.

Grady Memorial Hospital is helping send patients from full hospitals to ones that can take more patients.

This comes as the Georgia World Congress Center begins to reopen as a temporary medical facility.

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“We have certainly seen a huge increase in patients,” Grady Health System’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Jansen said.

Jansen said they had 20 COVID patients just over a month ago. Now, it’s five times that.

“We have now peaked at 100 patients. This morning we had 88 patients and part of the reason we’re down to that many is that we were able to send six patients over to Piedmont (Atlanta Hospital) since they’ve opened up their COVID-19 unit,” Jansen said.

Grady is part of the Regional Coordinating Center, which was set up after a flood destroyed hundreds of beds and Grady had to transfer patients to different hospitals.

That same RCC can also be used to move COVID-19 patients from at- or near-capacity hospitals into ones that can take them.

“Now we’re using the same system to coordinate transfer of patients to GWCC from any hospital that requires that service,” Jansen said.

The temporary hospital at the GWCC closed weeks ago when COVID case numbers dropped, but it is back open now due to the surge.

Georgia Emergency Management director Mark Sexton told Elliot that the reopening should help relieve pressure on stressed hospitals.

“The COVID patients are apparently taking a long time to get to full recovery stage, so this is going to provide an outlet for the hospital that once they’ve gotten patients that are starting to get better but still need a level of medical care, they can bring them here,” Sexton said.

Patients could start arriving at the GWCC on Monday morning.

Officials said there are no ventilators on site, but they can provide things like IV fluids, oxygen therapy and other physical therapies.

Georgia World Congress Center to be transformed into temporary hospital