'It feels like déjà vu': Vermont National Guard working to rebuild field hospital

National Guard members in Vermont started rebuilding a 250-bed field hospital at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex as a precautionary step amid rising COVID-19 cases, reports the Vermont Digger.

Guard members originally constructed the field hospital in April. About two dozen patients were treated there before it was taken down when cases leveled off in mid-summer. The facility will be organized in 50-bed walled off "pods," with COVID-19 getting a designated wing to isolate those patients. A team of 35 guard members began reconstructing the facility Nov. 19 and were expected to finish by Nov. 22.

"It feels like déjà vu," Mathew Lehman, civil engineer with Vermont's Air National Guard, told VT Digger. "It's the exact same sinks, the same wood, a lot of the same electrical, plumbing materials." 

The state's public safety commissioner, Michael Schirling, told local reporters that deciding to rebuild the field hospital was "largely a precautionary step" as a surge in COVID-19 cases sweeps through the state, adding that the state's hospitals are not currently facing urgent strain or capacity concerns. If a need for the field hospital arises, it will be staffed almost entirely by the National Guard. 

The state has secured space for another field hospital in the southern half of the state, though Mr. Schirling said "a threshold where that would be necessary" hasn't been reached, and construction hasn't started. 

As of Nov. 22, there were 22 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Vermont. 

More articles on patient flow:
COVID-19 surge forces Indiana hospital to divert ambulances for 2nd time in 20 years
2 killed in explosion at Connecticut hospital
Renown Health opens COVID-19 care site in parking structure


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