A 200-bed temporary hospital for coronavirus patients opened in April inside the Georgia World Congress Center. But because it saw only minimal usage, the facility is now being dismantled and 80 of its beds will be moved to a new pop-up hospital in Milledgeville, according to the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency.
Photo: Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

80 coronavirus beds moving from Atlanta to Milledgeville

The state is setting up a new temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients in Milledgeville, relocating 80 beds there from the little-used stand-up facility at the Georgia World Congress Center.

In a news release Wednesday, Gov. Brian Kemp said the new location “is more centrally located for many medical facilities throughout Georgia.

“We continue monitoring the virus data to enable us to ‘right size’ the resources and response so we can ensure every COVID-19 patient gets the care they need,” the statement from the governor said.

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The new hospital will be set up inside the former Youth Challenge Academy, a program for wayward teens that the state Department of Defense shuttered this year over budget cuts.

By early July, two units of the former youth academy will be repainted, sanitized and equipped with hospital beds and privacy walls, a press release from the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency said. PAE Staffing, the company operating the downtown Atlanta hospital, will provide medical personnel.

As the World Congress Center site was designed to do, Milledgeville’s pop-up hospital will take in overflow patients with mild to moderate symptoms who don’t need ventilators or critical care. With cases spiking throughout the country and in pockets of rural Georgia, health experts are warning that hospitals could be overrun with patients all over again.

However, Lisa Rodriguez-Presley, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, said the change is being made because of geographic needs, so patients can be more easily transferred from all corners of the state, and because the 200-bed temporary hospital at the Georgia World Congress Center has seen minimal usage.

The Atlanta facility, which opened in April, is being dismantled. Its remaining 120 beds and other unused equipment will be placed in storage at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, where it can be pulled out and put to use quickly should the need arise somewhere else in the state, GEMA said.

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