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TCF field hospital stops accepting patients


The TCF Regional Care Center in downtown Detroit is down to its final seven patients. 


According to Michelle Grinnell, a spokesperson for the facility, the field hospital stopped admitting new patients last week after health officials and hospital leadership noted “health data improvements” and a “reduction in hospital surge capacity overload” across Michigan. 



Lynn Torossian, the field hospital’s CEO, says it’s time for the state to devote attention elsewhere. 


“It was just really evident that we probably need to refocus resources, and use resources on continuing to stop the spread and start to get things reopened,” she said. 


Torossian expects the final seven patients to be discharged in the next ten days. Once empty, the facility will be staffed only by a security team. Beds will remain standing in case another wave of COVID-19 cases requires them. 


Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson Penny Carroll said construction on the facility cost $9.4 million, with FEMA covering 75% and the state covering the remainder.


In its three weeks of operation, the 1,000-bed TCF care center saw 39 COVID-19 patients, according to Grinnell. All were in non-critical condition, meaning they didn’t require a ventilator. According to FEMA Region 5 administrator James Joseph, the hospital at one point had a staff of 160, including Army medical officers and a medical team from the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. 


Workers also came from a staffing agency and a pool of employees furloughed by medical systems in southeast Michigan, according to Torossian. 


Torossian attributes the hospital’s low occupancy to the success of Governor Whitmer’s stay-at-home order. While it’s too soon to draw specific conclusions, she said the hospital’s leadership may decide the facility needed to be outfitted differently. 


As an example, she pointed to New York’s conclusion that it could have used more intensive care capacity in its field hospitals. 


“I’m sure if we go through and reflect on each and every step of the process, there might be things where we say, ‘Oh wow, we should have done this different,’” she said. “But at the time, I think we were making the best decisions on the amount of information that we had.”


*Correction: An earlier version of this story said the TCF Regional Care Center had seen a total of 41 patients. Thirty-nine is the correct number of patients. Forty-one is the number of admissions.

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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.
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