A field hospital set up by the U.S. Army at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle to handle overflow from hospitals dealing with COVID-19 patients closed up nine days after setup began and didn’t see a single patient, KUOW reported Wednesday.
In a statement, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the hospital would “be returned to the Federal Emergency Management Agency so it can be deployed to another state facing a more significant need.”
The facility, which housed 250 beds, had begun setup on March 30 and was designed to relieve hospitals in the city in case there was a surge. It was ready to receive patients on April 5 but never actually received one.
The state of Washington will continue to offer additional hospital beds in case overflow happens around the state, Inslee said.
“Though this one field hospital is being returned, state and local leaders continue to bolster resources throughout the state’s hospital and medical systems,” his statement read.
“The state has purchased equipment to support hospitals in the event Washington experiences a surge in positive Covid-19 cases, including 1,000 hospital beds and more than 900 ventilators. The state last week also finalized a lease to use the former Astria Regional Medical Center in Yakima to bolster surge capacity in Central Washington, which can support an additional 250 non-Covid patients if needed.”
The fact that the need for hospital beds was dramatically overestimated by Washington state, Inslee said, was because social-distancing measures had worked so well.
“Don’t let this decision give you the impression that we are out of the woods. We have to keep our guard up and continue to stay home unless conducting essential activities to keep everyone healthy,” Inslee said.
“We requested this resource before our physical distancing strategies were fully implemented and we had considerable concerns that our hospitals would be overloaded with Covid-19 cases. But we haven’t beat this virus yet, and until we do, it has the potential to spread rapidly if we don’t continue the measures we’ve put in place.”
“Our community mitigation measures, combined with the amazing work of our hospitals and health care providers throughout the region, as well as our procurement of various hospital supplies, lends us to believe that at this point, our hospitals should have enough capacity to support a surge in patients,” he added.
“With that said, I’m incredibly appreciative of the men and women from the 627th Hospital Center out of Fort Carson in Colorado. These soldiers uprooted their lives to help Washingtonians when we needed them most. Since then, it’s become apparent that other states need them more than we do. It’s only right that we release this capability so those states have the tools necessary to help end this nation-wide fight that we are all battling together.”