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Corps of Engineers Converts NYC's Javits Center Into Hospital

April 1, 2020 | BY C. Todd Lopez , DOD News

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.

A service member moves a mobile hospital bed that is also loaded with gear.
Facility Construction
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, the state of New York and the Army Corps of Engineers work to complete the construction of an alternate care facility at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, March 23, 2020.
Photo By: K.C. Wilsey, FEMA
VIRIN: 200323-O-KW201-836C
Two service members unwrap material on a shipping pallet.
Inventory Shipment
New York Army National Guard soldiers warehouse and inventory the initial shipments of an alternate care facility for setup at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, March 25, 2020.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Sean Madden
VIRIN: 200325-Z-AO733-131C

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.

Two service members set up a cot.
Hospital Bed
Service members set up beds for an alternate care facility at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, March 26, 2020.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Sean Madden
VIRIN: 200326-Z-AO733-483C

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.

Two men set up partitions and curtains on a large convention center floor.
Construction Crew
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, the state of New York and the Army Corps of Engineers work to complete the construction of an alternate care facility at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, March 26, 2020.
Photo By: K.C. Wilsey, FEMA
VIRIN: 200326-O-GS122-582C
Dozens of partitions and cots are set up on a large convention center floor.
Care Facility
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, the state of New York and the Army Corps of Engineers work to complete the construction of an alternate care facility at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, March 26, 2020.
Photo By: K.C. Wilsey, FEMA
VIRIN: 200326-O-GS122-396C

"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."