RENO (AFP) – To cope with an influx of coronavirus patients, a hospital in Reno in the western US state of Nevada has transformed two floors of a nearby parking garage into a care unit dealing with patients experiencing less severe symptoms.
The space gives Renown Health Hospital patients and staff a secure environment that has direct access to key hospital facilities — lab, pharmacy, food services — while freeing up intensive care unit beds in the main building for the most severe cases.
The site was constructed in just 10 days back in April, when specialized companies were brought in to fit two storeys of the indoor lot with new flooring and the necessary electrical, water and ventilation equipment.
It was finally activated last month, with the western US region becoming the latest disease epicenter and cases soaring in Nevada — currently the sixth-worst-hit US state by cases per capita, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The “alternative care site” has more than 1,400 beds, separated from one another by screens.
Hours before it was opened on November 12, controversy erupted as one doctor tweeted a selfie showing unused new beds still in their plastic wrappings — leading conspiracy theorists to label it a “fake hospital.”
The claim was amplified by Donald Trump, who retweeted the false allegation with the added caption “Fake election results in Nevada, also!” Twitter swiftly labeled the US president s post as “disputed.”
By Wednesday, the adapted parking lot visited by an AFP journalist had treated 350 patients, with 24 currently using the facility, according to hospital officials.
Nevada has recorded nearly 200,000 cases of coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, including 2,673 deaths.