Rosemont convention center considered a 'last resort' field hospital

The Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont has been considered as a possible field hospital that could deal with an overflow of patients, but only as a "last resort," village officials said.

The Army Corps of Engineers recently toured the 840,000-square-foot village-owned exhibition center, where officials discussed plans for as many as 3,000 beds, should area hospitals become overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

Christopher Stephens, the convention center's executive director, said the Army Corps and other officials on the tour "liked the space" and considered using the entire building. But since the sprawling field hospital being built at McCormick Place in Chicago has yet to take any patients, constructing and putting a similar makeshift hospital in Rosemont "would be somewhat of a last resort," Stephens said.

"I'm hopeful and optimistic they won't need those, for everybody's sake," he said.

Across town, the Army Corps also evaluated the two-story, 18,500-seat Allstate Arena. But the village-owned stadium was rejected as a field hospital site, according to Mayor Brad Stephens, who is the uncle of the convention center director.

"They didn't feel the arena was good enough for them to have the masses, if it gets to that point," the mayor said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot last week unveiled the first 500 beds of a planned 3,000-bed "alternative care facility" at McCormick Place. The remainder of the beds should be ready by the end of the month.

The state also is setting up another 730 beds at shuttered hospitals sites, including on the former Sherman Hospital campus in Elgin, Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park and MetroSouth Hospital in Blue Island.

Stephens, the convention center director, said he's been in touch with hospitals around Rosemont who've reported their capacity so far to be "in pretty good shape."

Pritzker's office on Tuesday released data showing that 35% of about 2,700 intensive care unit beds in the state are available. In the Northwest suburbs, a little more than half of beds are available, compared to 28% in the West suburbs, 17% in the Northeast suburbs and almost a quarter available in Chicago.

Meeting centers boosting health protocols

How the cancellation of trade shows, major events are impacting suburban convention centers

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.