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COVID-19: Renown to repurpose parking garage as alternate care site


Renown Health is preparing for a surge in hospitalized patients needing care for symptoms of COVID-19 by creating a temporary patient care area in its Mill Street Parking Structure. Hospital officials based the decision to install the interim facility on predictive models analyzing local, national and international data of the spread of coronavirus.

Renown has already placed closure signs at entrances to the garage, and security around the location is tight. A hospital security guard threatened to detain This Is Reno’s Editor, Bob Conrad, who was taking a photo for this story after the hospital sent out a news release announcing the changes.

Image: Bob Conrad

It appears that initial stages of work have already begun, an indication that increasing capacity is a top priority for the hospital. While temporary, Renown notes that the patient care area will be “sophisticated” and have the features of a regular health care facility: flooring, electrical infrastructure, lighting, water, technology and wall partitions, along with beds and basic patient care support equipment. 

“Across the country, we are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases including significant surges in hospitalized patients in many communities. As our nation experiences the impact of this international pandemic, we at Renown Health are focused on preparing for what could occur in our own community,” the hospital said in a recent statement.  “We are preparing for potential patient census increases, requiring a planning effort that challenges us to think outside of the box.”

Renown added that it’s not the only hospital to take this approach to meeting increasing demands due to the pandemic. It cited Vanderbilt University Hospital as another facility that has built a temporary care center. Colorado Public Radio reported yesterday that Governor Jared Polis has ordered preparation of 12,000 additional patient beds in field facilities, and the California Air National Guard is working to convert the Santa Clara Convention Center into a temporary federal medical facility, according to The Mercury News.

Renown’s decision to reconfigure the parking garage rather than seek floor space at an off-site facility, such as the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, was a logistical one.

“This location allows caregivers to remain on campus, and still have accessibility to existing hospital infrastructure such as lab, pharmacy, imaging, food services and other critical services,” the statement said. “This solution also allows for an efficient level of care escalation and other emergent interventions as needed.”

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