Army corps rushing to convert Elgin hospital site into facility for COVID-19 patients
Work to turn the shuttered Sherman Hospital site in Elgin into a facility for non-acute COVID-19 patients will take place as quickly as possible, officials said.
"We are in a race against time right now to see what we can get done in next three to four weeks as a relief valve for existing hospitals," U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Col. Aaron Reisinger said Tuesday.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chicago District has been assigned to work on the rehabilitation of three hospital sites, including the one in Elgin and MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island, Reisinger said.
The Elgin site will be an "alternate care facility," just like McCormick Place will be in Chicago, meaning they would receive patients transferred from existing hospitals, Reisinger said.
"We don't want people to believe this is a hospital that people that can show up to as an emergency room," he said.
Once the construction work is done, the state will supply equipment, staffing and administration of the hospital sites, Reisinger said.
State officials did not return requests for comment.
The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency also are involved in the operation, officials said.
The 13.7-acre campus at 901 Center St. in Elgin includes three vacant buildings totaling 254,000 square feet.
Sherman Hospital, which later became part of Advocate Health, moved in 2009 to Randall Road, and the old hospital building was demolished in 2012. The Center Street site held physicians' offices until December 2018.
The role of the Corps is to get the facilities in operational condition, Reisinger said. That includes sealing doors and windows, ensuring heating, air conditioning and electrical IT systems are working, and implementing COVID-19-specific measures, such as creating "negative pressure" in patient rooms so air is pulled out to protect health care workers.
The Corps got the assignment from Federal Emergency Management Agency Region V, which in turn received a request from the state of Illinois, Reisinger said.
The Corps has contracted with Turner Construction to get the job done in Elgin, and the cost estimate should be available in a week or two, he said. The building likely will require a lot of work because of its age and how long it has been closed, Reisinger said.