RI to shut down two of its three COVID-19 field hospitals

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Rhode Island is planning on deconstructing two of the state’s three field hospitals, which were set up back last spring in preparation for a potential surge in coronavirus cases.

Brett Smiley, director of the R.I. Department of Administration, tells 12 News that the two triage centers, one in the old Lowe’s building in Quonset the former and the other at the Rhode Island Convention Center, will be closed down.

Smiley asked for a six-month contract extension on the third, which is set up in the former Citizen’s Bank building Cranston. That would leave the state with 300 additional beds in case of a surge.

“To make sure that we’re never in a place where we are out of hospital beds and Rhode Islanders can sleep a little easier at night knowing that if the worst were to happen, there would be a bed for them,” Smiley said. “But it’s not our expectation that we are going to use it and we hope we never get to that point.”

The North Kingstown field hospital will be the easiest to decommission, Smiley said, because it was never completed.

“By the time the other two were online, we were kind of past the peak in the spring,” he explained. “So we never finished the construction project in order to save tax payer dollars.”

The other two field hospitals were completed, but never used. Smiley said they are in what he calls “a state of cold readiness.”

“The equipment is there, the staff at Rhode Island Hospital and Care New England have been trained on the facility so they could be activated at a moment’s notice, but they are not currently staffed,” he said.

Smiley said it will take some time for the field hospital at the Convention Center to be dismantled since they not only have to deconstruct it, but also have to reconstruct the building for its original purpose.

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