TCF Center to evolve into alternate care facility for Detroit area

Apr 1, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, on March 30, TCF Center was designated by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, State of Michigan and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a temporary alternate care site (ACS) in Detroit.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is designing and preparing the space. When they are done, other state agencies will come in and install the beds and equipment. The conversion will include two separate floors, which will be segregated based on the severity of a patient’s illness.


“Mobilization has already begun, and construction will be performed by the TCF Center workforce and trade labor unions,” said Claude Molinari, TCF Center General Manager. “250,000 square-feet of exhibit hall space in the venue will provide medical care space for the overflow of local Detroit hospitals. These are extraordinary times for our state and nation.”


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The designated hall on one floor will serve patients who do not need ventilators but do need oxygen and more attentive care. The hall on the lower level of the venue will serve recovering patients prior to release. Both halls will have negative air pressure, which will seal the air in that part of the building and isolate, as much as possible, the COVID-19 patient, while providing a suitable care area. When completed, the conversion will include approximately 1000 bed spaces and stations for medical personnel.  


Medical professionals will screen employees prior to the start of each shift. Designated back of house staff will wear hazmat attire. Separate service zones are designated so that delivery persons do not interact with any employees serving food.


With guidance from FEMA and other officials, the site will be designed in the most efficient way possible. This will allow the convention center to resume its normal operations in the weeks ahead when the crisis eases. When the ACS in TCF Center is no longer needed, there will be a very thorough clean up and sanitization of the venue to ease any concern about lingering health hazards.


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TCF Center, in collaboration with the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, is working closely with its customers to reschedule events at a time most beneficial to them.


Earlier in March, Forgotten Harvest, the Detroit area’s largest food redistribution agency, utilized loading dock space at no charge in TCF Center to collect and sort food. The effort was necessitated by the large surge in donations from local area hotel and restaurant closures.


“Tractor-trailers delivered pallets of dry goods to TCF Center. The product was broken down into combined units and delivered to satellite locations for needy families to pick up healthy meals,” said TCF General Manager Claude Molinari. “The operation ran 10 hours per day, five days per week with the assistance of the TCF Center administrative and labor personnel.”


On March 30 Forgotten Harvest volunteers began sorting the food to ship to local distribution sites where residents can pick up the care packages. Nearly 18,000 food boxes were packed and prepared for distribution at other locations. The TCF Center Green Committee assisted with recycling cardboard and pallets left in the venue.


“As we navigate this unprecedented time together, TCF Center is fully prepared to do its part in supporting our residents and community,” said Molinari. “We stand in awe of the tireless and dedicated healthcare workers and first responders who are true heroes of our time.”


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