DENVER (CBS4)– For Pete Sturdivant, there was no time to waste Friday afternoon, as he and a team from the Army Corps of Engineers swept through a vacant VA building in east Denver, seeing if it could quickly be converted into a makeshift hospital.
“We’re looking for facilities for COVID-19 patients,” said Sturdivant.
He said the east Denver facility was “in great shape. Get a focused contractor in here, working seven days a week, it could be ready in less than a couple of weeks.”
Teams from the Army Corps have fanned out across Colorado since Monday, quickly assessing vacant hospitals, college dorms and hotels, to see if they could quickly be retrofitted into alternative care facilities for coronavirus patients.
Across the state, Sturdivant said they are trying to find enough facilities with room to accommodate between 5,000 to 8,000 patients.
He said Army Corps teams have been looking in Denver, Pueblo and Grand Junction and will assess the Colorado Convention Center and Denver Coliseum this weekend.
“It could be a monumental effort,” said Sturdivant, “it’s what the Corps does. We build stuff.”
He said between the time they inspect a facility and produce an assessment report is only about 24 hours.
Key factors they are looking for:
-existing and working life/safety systems
-existing water and electricity
-the less time a facility has been dormant, the better
-the more bed space, the better
It would take months to build an actual hospital, said Dr. Michael Izard-Carroll of the Army Corps, and they don’t have that much time.
“We’re looking for actual buildings that can be retrofitted”, said Izard-Carroll.
He said sites need to be able to be refurbished and up and running in a matter of weeks. Corps of Engineers administrators say the search going on in Colorado is going on in every other state.
In what seemed like an understatement, Sturdivant said, ”We’re keeping very busy.”