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Charlotte hospitals ask to build field hospital to treat coronavirus patients

Atrium Health and Novant Health sent a joint letter Thursday asking for a field hospital to handle 3,000 additional patients.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Atruim and Novant Health systems have asked Mecklenburg County and its’ partners to build a field hospital to treat as many as 3,000 additional COVID-19 coronavirus patients during the anticipated surge of the virus.

In a joint letter Thursday to Mecklenberg County Manager Dena Diorio, Atrium CEO Eugene Woods and Novant CEO Carl Armato said that in spite of canceling non-emergency visits, providing thousands of virtual visits, and increasing hospital bed capacity by 50 percent in the last several weeks, there is a potential need for as many as 3,000 additional hospital beds.

"Using the latest epidemiological statistical analysis to predict community spread, we are anticipating potential additional volumes of approximately 3,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients beyond our currently planned surge capacity," the letter reads. "In addition, our models suggest the surge will occur between mid-April and mid-May 2020."

A final location for the requested field hospital has not been confirmed or announced, WCNC Charlotte's Hunter Saenz learned Thursday. They are in the final stage of planning logistics. 

In the letter, the hospital system leaders propose University of North Carolina at Charlotte as a possible location.

While UNCC has not been confirmed as the final location, UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip Dubois announced Thursday that it may become necessary for Holshouser, Hunt, Laurel, Levine, Sanford and Scott Halls to be opened for support of the county and state’s plans to protect the health and safety of the community.

Mecklenburg County officials could not confirm to WCNC Charlotte's Kendall Morris how the residence halls would be utilized but said more details will be available if a decision is made to use the dorms.

RELATED: UNC Charlotte preparing to assist the county, state to combat COVID-19

Atrium Health has already established a mobile morgue outside Cabarrus NorthEast in Concord.

Atrium Health released the following additional statement to WCNC Charlotte:

Atrium Health continues to implement plans for the increased impact COVID-19 will have on our community. As part of our ongoing pandemic planning, we are coordinating and working with every hospital in our system to prepare for the anticipated influx of COVID-19 patients in the weeks ahead. This includes decreasing non-essential appointments and procedures early on, our emphasis on virtual health visits and identifying extra available space for patients. We are also preparing for the possibility there may be a higher number of patients who succumb to COVID-19. The extent of how fast COVID-19 will spread, the impact it has, and our ability to serve the community during this state of emergency is directly dependent on how well our community observes the physical distancing and stay-at-home orders in place today. We continue to urge the community to do their part in flattening the curve. These measures underscore how vitally important it is for the community to observe stay-at-home and physical distancing orders in place.

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