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How Convention Centers Are Being Utilized During the Pandemic

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How Convention Centers Are Being Utilized During the Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, most trade shows, conventions, and other face-to-face marketing events have been canceled or postponed to later dates. These large buildings are empty—there are no presentations being held or vendors showcasing products and services inside their custom exhibit designs.

However, during this pandemic, many hospitals are becoming over-crowded. They simply cannot handle the growing cases of coronavirus plus their standard load of patients.

In order to create more space for patients and allow medical facilities to properly implement quarantine procedures, a number of cities are working with the United States Army Corps of Engineers to temporarily transform their convention centers into pop-up field hospitals.

How These Pop-Up Field Hospitals Are Used

Patients who are diagnosed with COVID-19 must be kept away from others, and the medical professionals treating them have to take extraordinary precautions to avoid both contracting the illness and passing it on to others.

Given that quarantine measures cannot be quickly or easily created in spaces not meant for medical use, those who have contracted the virus are expected to remain in traditional hospitals.

Instead, convention centers mainly are being used to house patients who are in need of medical attention but do not need to be quarantined or require highly specialized care.

For example, patients who are under observation or who have had a routine medical procedure that requires a hospital stay may be moved to a convention center. If the pandemic is not contained through social distancing and shelter-in-place orders, these pop-up centers could house coronavirus patients too. However, government and medical professionals have stated this possibility is considered a worst-case scenario.

The Benefits of Using Convention Centers as Hospitals

There are a number of reasons why convention centers are being used instead of other facilities. Again, due to the restrictions on large gatherings, these buildings are going unused.

Designed to be reconfigured regularly to house trade show island designs, these large, open convention centers can easily be sectioned off with designated hospital “rooms” and other care areas. The multiple electrical and water connections within the larger spaces can be configured to support the medical equipment needed to treat patients as required.

Patients also will benefit from being moved to a pop-up hospital. These patients do not need to worry about being in the same facility as those who have been diagnosed with the COVID-19. The nurses and other medical professionals who are attending to them have not had contact with those treating coronavirus patients either.

The medical staff working in these pop-up hospitals benefit from being able to more easily monitor multiple patients and having space to create prep areas. Converting other facilities such as dorms or hotels often make it difficult for staff to fully monitor multiple patients.

Major Convention Centers that Have Been Converted

While there are convention centers across the United States that have been fully or partially converted into pop-up hospitals, three of the largest are in Dallas, Chicago, and New York City. In Dallas, the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center has the capacity to hold 1,400 beds if needed, though the initial number of patients housed at the center will be much fewer.

In Chicago, McCormick Place will house up to 3,000 patients. Unlike other pop-up facilities, however, this hospital is being designed to treat coronavirus patients. One section of the center, Hall B, will house 750 self-contained quarantine modules. The other two sections of the center, Halls A and C, will house 1,800 and 500 patients, respectively.

In New York City, the Jacob K. “Javits” Convention Center will be used to provide care to 1,000 patients who are not affected with COVID-19.

Exhibitus Is On-Hand to Help

At Exhibitus, we are putting our years of designing custom booths at trade shows to use during the pandemic. We have the team, the equipment, and the capability to assist in providing PPE materials to frontline healthcare providers, as well as assist in converting these convention centers into fully functional pop-up hospitals. We are fully committed to doing everything we can to help with the crisis. Contact us today for more information on our COVID-19 response.