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Ascension Michigan to provide administrative heavy-lifting at Novi field hospital


A major healthcare network, Ascension Michigan, will be working with health department officials to run Michigan’s second field hospital for COVID-19 patients, according to a Tuesday press release from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office. 

The facility will be located at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, where the Army Corps of Engineers began construction on Tuesday. 

Though not clear in the press release, Oakland County Executive David Coulter described Ascension’s role as mostly administrative, overseeing basic hospital operations.


Referring to the Army Corps of Engineers, Coulter said, “They can construct a hospital, but they don’t run hospitals. And so you really need a local hospital system partner to help manage the healthcare operations of the center.” 


It’s not yet clear how the hospital will be staffed, and Ascension did not respond to a request for comment. But Coulter, who will be working closely with Ascension leadership as the hospital becomes operational, said they will recruit staff from a variety of sources.


"No one entity would be able to take that on, and in fact, even all of our hospital systems together probably can’t take it on," Coulter said. As such, staffing the field hospital will depend on volunteers, and possibly federal medical units. 


According to Michigan health department spokesperson Lynn Sutfin, this mixed approach has been taken by the team working at the TCF Center field hospital in Detroit. Sutfin said staffing that hospital will depend on volunteers, federal agencies, and workers recruited through private staffing companies. 


Like the TCF Center, the Novi site will be able to house 1,000 patients, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The converted convention center is expected to be open for patients by April 20th. 

Will Callan, a reporter for Michigan Radio, hails from the Bay Area, where he lived in Oakland and San Francisco and reported for local newspapers and magazines. He enjoys a long swim in chilly water (preferably followed by a sauna) and getting to know new cities. That's one reason he's excited to be in Ann Arbor, which he can already tell has just the right combo of urban grit and natural beauty to make him feel at home.