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Memorial Coliseum discussed as backup care facility if hospitals get overrun by COVID

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There are ongoing discussions about using the Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne as a temporary care facility for COVID-19 patients, if hospital care units are overwhelmed.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - Where would local health officials direct seriously ill COVID patients for treatment if local hospitals run out of room to house them all?

A building known for hosting sporting events, concerts and trade shows might take on a new role in a worst case scenario.

The Memorial Coliseum is not going to be immediately converted into a temporary hospital to care for the sick.

In fact, it may not happen at all.

But because COVID infections in Allen County and surrounding counties are skyrocketing, we can say there has been discussion and planning between leaders of the county health department and Coliseum about the possibility of moving coronavirus patients into the building, if hospital critical care units in town get overburdened.

The building has ample space and at least a portion of the structure also has the right environmental conditions to properly care for and treat those sick with COVID-19.

"There are various places, in particular the Coliseum, within this community that would work for that, it has space where there is negative air flow, which is, from what I understand, essential in COVID-19 cases and the treatment of them," said Republican Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters, who is familiar with the ongoing discussions.

But Parkview Health's Chief Quality and Safety Officer, Dr. Jeff Boord, says even if the Coliseum provides needed space to care for patients, that won't do anything about helping out with shortages of doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff to administer care.

Boord believes personnel is being overwhelmed as much as space and equipment within hospitals right now.

The Allen County Department of Health announced new restrictions regarding mask wearing and on how many people can attend social gatherings Tuesday, in hopes of slowing infection rates enough to give healthcare providers some needed relief in the weeks ahead.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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