2nd field hospital site picked in metro Detroit

The TCF Center in Detroit is transformed into a field hospital to house COVID-19 patients | TCF Center photo

As the 1,000-bed field hospital expected to open this week in the TCF Center in Detroit, the state of Michigan has selected the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi as the site of a second alternate care facility during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After conversion, the convention center off I-696 in Oakland County will provide 250,000 square feet and bed space to accommodate up to 1,000 people with COVID-19.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives a COVID-19 update at the state Capitol, March 26, 2020 | Gov. Whitmer photo

“This is more good news for Michiganders in our fight against COVID-19,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Having access to more medical facilities and more space for health care professionals to perform their life saving work means we are more able to slow the spread of COVID-19. Fighting this virus is going to take all of us working together as Michiganders, and I want to thank everyone who has stepped up to volunteer at a health care facility or donate blood, money, or medical supplies. We will get through this.”

The COVID-19 crisis has stretched thin the staffs and facilities of many Southeast Michigan hospitals. Roughly 80% of Michigan’s more than 17,000 cases, as of Monday, are in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County. Combined, they represent 631 of Michigan’s 727 deaths — 87%.

Michigan has the third-most COVID-19 cases in the nation.

Whitmer’s office said the decision to continue to expand bed space in Southeast Michigan is a “proactive measure.” Health officials believe Michigan may not hit its apex for several weeks.

“We are uniquely positioned to be able to support this effort and the fight against COVID-19. We feel it is important to serve as a resource to the state and the community in these times of need,” said Blair Bowman, owner of the Suburban Collection Showplace.

Detroit convention center will transform into makeshift medical site

The state of Michigan, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Michigan National Guard partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assess the site and coordinate federal funding for the expansion.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Detroit District, recommended the TCF location late last month and Whitmer gave the go-ahead. Construction and supplies for the TCF Center field hospital came from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). About 20 members of the Michigan National Guard also have provided logistical support.

In addition to TCF Center and the Suburban Collection Showplace, other locations in Michigan are under consideration for future expansion, the governor’s office said.

Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.