TCF Center, Suburban Collection Transform Into Field Hospitals for COVID-19

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is turning two Metro Detroit convention centers into field hospitals to help house the influx of patients suffering from the virus.

Detroit’s TCF Center usually showcases events like the glitzy North American International Auto Show.

But this year’s show has been cancelled under an escalating threat from COVID-19. And now, the U.S. Army is turning the TCF Center, and Novi conference center Suburban Collection Showcase, into field hospitals for less-critically ill COVID-19 patients.

“Typical projects for the Army Corps of Engineers, we’re talking weeks or months or years. We’re talking hours in this situation.” — Nick Zager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Michigan has some of the largest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the nation. The vast majority are in Metro Detroit. 

The head of the TCF project, U.S. Army’s Nick Zager, says contractors are working around the clock to create space for 1,000 beds and two hospital floors at the downtown convention center.

The top floor will have oxygen available but no ventilators. The entire facility will have a “negative pressure” environment, where Zager says “bad” air goes out and good air stays in.

He says it’s all happening under a tight deadline.

“Typical projects for the Army Corps of Engineers, we’re talking weeks or months or years. We’re talking hours in this situation,” Zager said.

Zager says the effort to house the flood of COVID-19 patients that is already overwhelming some hospitals may branch out beyond metro Detroit.

“We have investigated over 20 sites throughout the state,” he said. “We’ve worked really closely with Michigan’s Health and Human Services and the State Police to prioritize the sites.”

Click on the player above to hear the how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is transforming the TCF Center into a makeshift hospital.

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  • Quinn Klinefelter
    Quinn Klinefelter is a Senior News Editor at 101.9 WDET. In 1996, he was literally on top of the news when he interviewed then-Senator Bob Dole about his presidential campaign and stepped on his feet.