BUTLER COUNTY (KDKA) — A closed elementary school in Butler County was selected as a hospital overflow facility amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Butler County Commissioner Leslie Osche says the shuttered Broad Street Elementary School will be an off-site facility for Butler Health Systems.
She says an architect is already designing the plans as they order shower stalls and get negative air units.
The school’s maintenance crew will soon roll up to the building to begin converting the school to patient care.
The school’s easy access and proximity to the county’s main hospital were all important factors.
“We are hearing we are heading into the critical time,” said Leslie Osche, Chair of Butler County’s Board of Commissioners.
On Friday morning, Butler Memorial Hospital reported 18 inpatients, six suspected of having coronavirus, 12 confirmed and 6 patients in the ICU.
Concordia at the Orchard has one confirmed patient, and the Butler VA reported its first positive patient on Friday.
“If the predictions are correct, you going to sort of seeing a surge all at once,” said Osche.
The rising number of patients testing positive and those being treated for coronavirus means an overflow patient care facility must be ready.
“We needed to step up … the hospital’s got a lot on its hands right now. So we need to be able to take the lead,” said Butler County Commissioner Kim Geyer.
County leaders, emergency management, the Butler School District and Butler Health System say they worked quickly choosing the former school.
County leaders say the building is in good shape, it’s air-conditioned and vacant of most furniture and supplies.
Dividers will be brought in to turn classrooms into hospital rooms, and portable showers will be brought into the school’s bathrooms.
“We need to have this done within the next two weeks,” said Geyer.
The District’s maintenance department will be doing most of the work.
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The internet is being reconnected, and the school’s video monitors will be used for telemedicine.
County leaders and the Butler Area School District say they’ll mostly be reimbursed by PEMA And FEMA.