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The Nation’s Largest Convention Center is Being Converted into a COVID-19 Alternative Care Facility

It accommodates low to moderate acuity COVID-19 patients so that existing hospitals and healthcare workers can serve more severe cases.

Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center is being repurposed as an Alternate Care Facility (ACF) and will use a medical records systems used in the majority of Chicago’s healthcare facilities to provide clinicians with immediate access to their patients’ chart.

The new ACF, one of the largest in the nation, is designed to help address an anticipated surge in hospitalizations around the state related to COVID-19. It accommodates low to moderate acuity COVID-19 patients so that Chicago’s existing hospitals and healthcare workers can serve more severe cases. Epic is providing software and services at no cost.

“This coordination between public and private partners is on a massive scale,” said Leela Vaughn, an Epic executive assisting with records availability said. “Think of the coordination that goes into building a hospital—from constructing patient rooms, to rolling in beds, to sourcing devices and getting them set up. That typically takes months or years, but together we’re making it happen in a matter of days.”

The Chicago Department of Public Health contacted Epic in the early stages of their planning process. Epic’s team worked with CDPH to assess capacity and find a partner, and Rush University Medical Center joined the team.

Many private and public partners are tackling the task of turning a convention space into a 3,000-bed ACF, a move being replicated around the country. One area of focus has been staffing the clinicians needed to support the hundreds of beds placed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the center’s 2.6 million square feet.

Phase One of the project created 500 10′ X 10′ patient rooms, furnished with beds and basic healthcare items, 14 nursing stations, and support rooms for medical supply storage, pharmacy, and housekeeping services. It will be the first operational section of the facility to use Epic. The full site will bring up to 2,500 additional patient rooms online by the end of the month.

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