Clark County, local hospitals, and the Southern Nevada Health District unveiled a plan to convert the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center into an alternate care site in the event that area hospitals reach capacity in caring for large numbers of coronavirus patients.
Based on a plan designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in consultation with local officials, the initial buildout of the site would contain 450 beds and can be expanded to include an additional 900 beds if necessary. The first phase of the plan calls for 300 beds to be located on the first floor of the South Hall with accompanying medical stations, equipment and staffing to care for coronavirus patients requiring monitoring in a medical setting but not IV therapy or intensive care. An additional 150 beds with separate medical facilities, staff and an entrance and exit, would be located on the second floor of the South Hall to care for patients who do not have coronavirus but require post-operative care and attention before they can be discharged from a hospital. Buildout of the site will only occur if the number of occupied hospital beds appears to be reaching surge capacity at area hospitals.
"I want to thank Clark County staff, our local hospitals, and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for the significant amount of work that has been done in a very short amount of time to help our community care for a large surge of patients if our coronavirus caseload increases to a point that we need more hospital space than our existing facilities can provide," said Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick. "As of today, we are grateful to report that our hospitalization needs do not require the addition of this alternate care site, but we are ready to put this plan into action if we need it. As a community, our early actions have made a difference in the caseload we are seeing. We thank our residents for doing their part to stay home and practice social distancing. Please keep up the good work."
Spanning 908,500 square feet, officials said the South Hall of the Convention Center is an ideal space for building out a temporary alternative care site because of its size, access and adaptability. The plan calls for building out the space with a temporary network of drapes and dividers, and installation of beds, medical stations, equipment and supplies. The process should take about four days upon notification of the need to activate the facility.
"We have been working hand in hand with our hospital partners, the state of Nevada, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Southern Nevada Health District to address the need to care for patients if our hospitals reach capacity," said Clark County Fire Chief John Steinbeck, who oversees Clark County's Multi-Agency Coordination Center (MACC). "Our primary goal is to free up space to care for the most critical patients at our existing hospitals and also to provide quality care to patients requiring medical supervision prior to being discharged home in an alternate-care setting."
Local hospital groups that collaborated on the surge plan include Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals, Kindred Hospitals, North Vista Hospital, Sunrise Health System and HCA Healthcare, University Medical Center, Valley Health System, and VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System.
The Convention Center facility will be managed as a unified operation by an incident management team comprised of local emergency management officials and UMC. UMC medical staff will provide patient care with support from volunteers through the Medical Reserve Corps of Southern Nevada.
"UMC takes pride in working alongside our community partners to ensure Southern Nevada remains prepared for any future influx of patients," said UMC CEO Mason VanHouweling. "While we certainly hope the additional space is not needed, UMC's world-class team members remain ready to provide care and oversee operations at the Las Vegas Convention Center to ensure patients receive the highest quality of care."
The County already has several resources in place to ease pressure on local hospitals, including:
- Well Care Services, 114 beds for people who need to be in isolation and under the care of medical professionals.
- CrossRoads of Southern Nevada, 39 beds for people who need to be in isolation and under the care of medical professionals.
- The Salvation Army, 32 beds for individuals who are over 65 and have underlying medical issues.
- The Clark County-City of Las Vegas Isolation and Quarantine Complex at the Cashman Center (Cashman ISO-Q) is a 500-bed acute observation care facility for homeless individuals who need to be in quarantine or isolation, but not hospitalized. Without this facility, the affected homeless individuals would be on the streets, in a shelter or in a hospital, none of which are ideal for those individuals or our community.
In addition, the Southern Nevada Health District is planning a 30-plus bed isolation facility next to its main building.
More information about the community's coronavirus response is posted in the COVID-19 Update pages on Clark County's website at www.ClarkCountyNV.gov. Topics include updates on County operations, department contact information, a donations page listing services in the community being offered by non-profits and ways people can contribute, and a list of local employers that have job openings.
Officials also remind residents to be aware of symptoms of stress and anxiety related to the pandemic including fear and worry about your health and the health of loved ones, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, drug and alcohol abuse or worsening chronic health conditions. Residents are encouraged to reach out to their local health-care providers and various telephone and online resources. Older people with chronic health problems, children and teens, and people who are helping with the community's response to COVID-19 may be particularly vulnerable. Recommended ways to cope with stress include taking breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories including social media; taking deep breaths and stretching and exercising regularly; eating healthy, well-balanced meals; and connecting with people you love and trust. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has created a section on its website devoted to mental health and coping with COVID-19: https://www.vegasstrongrc.org/resources/covid-19-mental-health-resources/. Additional 24-hour telephone resources include:
- Nevada 2-1-1, a program of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, provides information and referrals to health, human and social service organizations throughout the state. Dial 2-1-1 or visit its website at www.nevada211.org for more information about its services.
- Disaster Distress Helpline: Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
- Crisis Support Services of Nevada: Call 1-800-273-8255, or text CARE (2273) to 839863.