Miami-Dade offered the first look Tuesday at a bare-bones field hospital built on the county fairgrounds, ready to tend to residents and visitors sickened during the global coronavirus pandemic and crowded out by an overwhelmed healthcare system.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez said current projections show the county shouldn’t have to resort to such drastic measures, and that the 250-bed facility built in a tent at Tamiami Park will likely remain empty. Those projections have not been made public.
Gimenez said the state-supplied facility would be used to handle patients requiring minor treatment if other hospitals were overrun with critical COVID-19 cases.
“We’re nowhere close to that, by the way, right now,” Gimenez said. “This is a pretty good stopgap safety measure.”
Late Tuesday, Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez posted results of a county survey of hospital capacity. The figures showed about 60 percent of the 1,222 ventilators counted in the survey remain available. That’s also true with the roughly 511 intensive-care beds counted in the survey, with 62 percent available.
Jennifer Moon, the deputy mayor who provided the numbers shared by Suarez, wrote the surveys only began a few days ago and show only what participating hospitals are reporting.
“There are still another [approximately] 150 ventilators to be delivered, and another 500 that the state has on hold for us,” Moon wrote. “Also, there are [approximately] 300 anesthesia machines that can be converted to ventilators.”
The demand for those hospital facilities during a surge in coronavirus cases will determine whether Miami-Dade uses the field hospital built where the Youth Fair would have been held if it wasn’t canceled earlier this month as an emergency measure to try and slow the spread of the virus.
Video released by Miami-Dade shows a cavernous, air-conditioned tent hospital with patient areas marked off by fabric curtains. The beds are cots. Bathrooms are housed in trailers, inside the tents.
A Kentucky company, Emergency Disaster Services, built the hospital under a state contract. It started going up last week.
Gimenez said the field hospital is available for extra beds to let hospitals clear out patients quicker as more serious cases arrive. Materials for another 250-bed hospital are on site at the Youth Fair, he said, and could be built in 72 hours.
“We hope never to get there,” Gimenez said during a video press conference Tuesday. “And the projections I’ve seen, I don’t think we’re going to get there.”