Georgia hospital CEOs to governor: Reopen field hospital so we can continue surgeries

Georgia officials are working to reactivate a temporary field hospital at Atlanta's Georgia World Congress Center after hospital chiefs in the state urged Gov. Brian Kemp to come up with more hospital beds so their organizations can maintain elective surgeries, and consequently buoy finances, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.  

The state also plans to strike an arrangement with a yet-to-be confirmed health system to add approximately 100 intensive care and surgical units to the state's healthcare infrastructure.

A spokesperson for the governor said the field hospital and addition of 100 beds are partly driven by hospital leaders' encouragement for interventions that would allow them to continue elective, non-emergent surgeries and care. 

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Georgia have been on the rise since June 14, according to a data dashboard organized by the AJC based on data from the Georgia Department of Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency. More than 2,440 people with confirmed COVID-19 were hospitalized as of July 10.

Three counties — Gwinnett, Fulton and DeKalb — have the most hospitalizations, cumulatively topping 3,550 as of July 10, according to the state department of public health.  

The field hospital at GWCC opened in April as a 200-bed alternate care facility and ceased operations May 16. 

The American Hospital Association has estimated that hospitals will lose $323.1 billion this year, due in large part to lower patient volumes stemming from the nationwide suspension of elective surgeries during the initial surge of the novel coronavirus. 

In Georgia, some of the state's largest health systems have furloughed staff as a result. Marietta, Ga.-based Wellstar Health System furloughed 1,070 workers through July 31 and projected a $400 million to $600 million loss in 2020. Emory Healthcare, an 11-hospital system based in Atlanta, rolled out plans June 1 to reduce hours or furlough 1,500 workers through Aug. 31.

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