Fresno Convention Center turned into site to treat non-COVID-19 patients

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In perfect rows, similar to a military-style field hospital, the Exhibit Hall has been transformed.

"We're working on manning it but the hope is we won't need it," says Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes.

It took five hours for the California National Guard to set up the pop-up hospital Wednesday. Staff from the 144th Fighter Wing stepped in to lend a hand.

"We provided a lot of airmen to put this thing together," says 144th Air National Guard Col. Dave Johnston. "What's interesting to note is that we don't have a squadron full of experts on how to build field hospitals. These are folks pulled from everything, from emergency management to civil engineering to logistics. They just want to come out and contribute to the mission."

Interim County Health Officer, Rais Vohra said right now, local hospitals are treating several dozen COVID-19 patients.

At this time, they are not near capacity status because of the specific steps they are taking with other patients.

"They've been able to discharge a lot of patients who are able to go home," Vohra said. "They've been able to accelerate that recovery as much as possible, so they focus on who they can send home because they know they need to prepare for the next phase of this pandemic."

Vohra said doctors know that patients who don't have COVID-19 may be more exposed to it in a hospital setting.

Unless there's a surge in novel coronavirus cases, the Exhibit Hall would be used for patients who are not needing intense medical care. No ventilators or large equipment is available there.

"It's really not a place where very sick or unstable people can be treated, so this is really a place where we can treat people that have already been to the hospital, maybe have already had their workup done, got their x-rays and CAT scans, and they're really just on the road to recovery," Vohra said.

Any events that were planned at the Exhibit Hall have been canceled or postponed until the fall. The county will be renting the space for as long as it's needed.

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