By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (April 01, 2020) -- The New York District of the Army Corps of Engineers has completed its conversion of the 1,800,000-square-foot Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City into an alternate care facility for more than 2,000 non-COVID-19 patients.
More than 165 New York District personnel provided design, engineering and construction support to facilitate the conversion in response to a Federal Emergency Management Agency request, said Michael Embrich, a Corps of Engineers spokesman.
The Corps of Engineers got the call from FEMA about two weeks ago to outfit the convention center into an alternate care facility, Embrich said. Work began about a week later, and was complete just a week after that. The speed at which the Corps was able to get the project completed is unusual, he said, but the circumstances warranted the extra effort.
"It was much quicker than we usually design, engineer and construct a project," he said. "We worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week with our vertical team to spec out the sites [and] award contracts, and then began work immediately after the contracts were awarded."
Patients were able to move into the converted facility March 30, Embrich said.
The alternate care facility will not be used for COVID-19 patients. It will be used for non-COVID-19 patients, allowing area hospitals more room to treat patients infected by the coronavirus.
Contracts were recently awarded to convert additional locations in New York into alternate care facilities. Included among those are the Westchester County Community Center in White Plains, New York, and at the State University of New York's campuses at Stony Brook and Old Westbury on Long Island. Work should begin on those projects soon, Embrich said.
It wasn't the Corps of Engineers alone that made the effort at the convention center possible, Embrich said.
This effort wouldn't be possible without the "phenomenal teammates" the Corps of Engineers has at the state of New York, the city of New York, the New York National Guard, FEMA, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the General Services Administration, as well as the Defense Department and the armed forces, he said.
"There are so many people from the health care professionals to the staff at the Javits Center who are still working throughout New York and New Jersey," he added. "Truthfully, there are too many to name."
Embrich said that during emergencies, the Corps of Engineers serves as the federal government's lead public works and engineering support agency.
"The New York District works 365 days a year in New York and in the surrounding communities," he said. "Currently, the Corps has numerous studies that will help bring more constructed projects to New York City that will increase resiliency and reduce risk to persons, property and infrastructure in the city."