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Sandy Journal

Sandy Expo Center ready to be Utah’s backup hospital site

Apr 29, 2020 11:43AM ● By Heather Lawrence

Cots and cribs were set up in the Mountain America Expo Center as a backup hospital site. The venue’s size, air handling system and backup generators made it ideal for the use. (Joe Dougherty/Utah Division of Emergency Management)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

On April 6, the Utah Division of Emergency Management announced that the Mountain America Expo Center at 9400 S. State St. was set up as a backup hospital site. The site has the capacity for 1,100 patients, including pediatric beds and an on-site pharmacy. The venue’s size, air handling system and backup generators made it ideal for the use.

Several weeks in, Public Information Officer Joe Dougherty said the site is ready if needed. “We hope we never have to use this site. If hospitals get overwhelmed with intensive care patients suffering from COVID-19, it's important to have a plan for those who need less-than-acute care. The primary vision is to use it as an overflow should the need arise.”

Dougherty reiterated that it’s not meant to be used for COVID-19 patients, but could be converted for that use. “Utah does not currently need to send any patients to an alternate care site because Utah is working hard to flatten the curve. As people continue to use social distancing measures, they decrease the likelihood of a runaway pandemic, which would land too many people in the hospital at once. Because Utahns are keeping apart, it's working and hospitals are not overwhelmed,” Dougherty said.

“We'd rather not have to scramble to set up such a facility, and it gives us peace of mind that it's ready to go, even if we never use it. This is the first time something like this has been set up in Utah. We're grateful to the Utah Department of Health, which years ago had the foresight to purchase enough beds and equipment to have a 1,000-bed facility. We wouldn't have this peace of mind without them,” Dougherty said.

The alternate care site will be set up until it is no longer needed.