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Las Vegas Convention Center will be used as alternate hospital, if needed

Las Vegas Convention Center expansion approved
Posted at 3:36 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 12:41:59-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Government and health officials announced Tuesday their plan to use the Las Vegas Convention Center as a possible 900-bed alternate hospital, if a COVID-19 surge happens in Nevada.

"We're not putting our foot on the brake but we are taking it off the gas just a little bit," said Clark County Fire Department Chief John Steinbeck.

Health officials said while Southern Nevada is seeing a "leveling off" in new COVID-19 cases, they are still preparing for the worst and ready to convert the Las Vegas Convention Center into an alternate hospital if necessary. The goal being to keep the sickest patients in the main hospitals.

"If we have to make more space in that hospital and move people out that are appropriate that aren't ready to go home yet but don't require that same high level of care, then we've identified the Las Vegas Convention Center as the location to go ahead and do that," said Steinbeck.

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Officials say the facility could be up and running in four days. But the conversion will only happen if officials project a surge in cases.

"We're constantly looking at our ICU beds, our occupancy, our medical beds occupancy, our ER beds, our ventilator use," said Mason VanHouweling, CEO of University Medical Center.

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Government and health officials are in daily talks with hospitals to talk about current levels, needs and projected needs. Right now, everyone agrees the stay at home order combined with social distancing has had a huge impact on the spread of the virus in Nevada. But they are still ready.

"We want patients in the hospitals, but if we need to, we're ready for this next step," said VanHouweling.