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As a new strain of coronavirus (covid-19) sweeps through the world, stay up-to-date on the latest preparedness plans, school closings, changed polling locations, and more in the Tri-State.

Duke Energy Center Transformed Into Temporary Hospital

City of Cincinnati/Cincinnati Fire Department
One-hundred-fifty hospital beds are now setup at Duke Energy Convention Center to serve as a facility to treat COVID-19 patients.

The Duke Energy Convention Center is now ready to be an "alternative care site" to treat COVID-19 patients if necessary.

Cincinnati, Hamilton County and local health officials walked the media through the center Thursday afternoon to show the transformation.

It has 150 beds and will only be activated if local hospitals cannot manage the patient loads at their facilities.

Those patients who are COVID-19 positive and recovering with less medical intervention required would likely be transferred to Duke to complete their recoveries. That would free up space in local hospitals for sicker patients who require more care.

Just a few weeks ago, officials were planning for at least 550 beds at Duke with the possibility of expansion.

But stay-at-home orders and social distancing have reduced the numbers of COVID-19 cases.

"The models right now suggest that the peak surge is going to be dramatically less intense than we originally planned" said Dr. Richard Lofgren with UC Health. "And that's all because of the work that all of you have done."

Lofgren said local health provider agreed early on to collaborate and not compete during this health crisis.  He said they agreed on three important principles.

"First, at all times we're going to protect our care workers, and our patients," Lofgren said. "Secondly, to ensure that every citizen in our entire region would have access to high quality compassionate care, and that we work together in a transparent way in terms of sharing data, sharing learnings, and sharing our resources as well."

Patients who are transferred to Duke will need to be isolated from the public and there will be no visitations allowed at the facility.

Southwest Ohio hospital systems will provide staffing for the alternative care site.

Officials will be monitoring the space at local hospitals and will have several hours to prepare if the Duke facility needs to be activated, and that will only happen if it's necessary.

Hamilton County Commission President Denise Driehaus also praised residents for "flattening the curve" and reducing the needed space at Duke.

"I hope we don't need to use any of these beds," Driehaus said. "I'm glad that we're ready, we needed to do this exercise, in any case, to make sure that we can be ready when something devastating happens to our community. But as the mayor said, we hope not to have to use any of these beds in the coming weeks."

Besides the city and the county, The Health Collaborative and the state of Ohio-Butler County Incident Management team work with Greater Cincinnati hospitals collaborated on the site.