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Vacant hospital in Lincoln Park to be converted, serve as overflow amid COVID-19 outbreak

Blurred figures of people with medical uniforms in hospital corridor
Blurred figures of people with medical uniforms in hospital corridor (VILevi)

DETROIT – A vacant hospital in Lincoln Park will be converted and serve as an 80-bed overflow hospital amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Wayne County Commission approved the $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to convert the hospital.

The approval clears the way for Insight Surgical Hospital to overhaul the Vibra Hospital with the capacity to grow from 80 to 440 beds as needed to deal with the crisis.

“Many hospitals are at capacity, we must continue to act quickly amid this crisis to support our health care system,” Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans said. “Insight Surgical Hospital can provide immediate relief in Wayne County through increased beds and help decrease the chance of COVID-19 exceeding overall capacity. Over the long-term, there is also great potential here as a state-of-the-art neuroscience center in Lincoln Park.”

After being used for COVID-19, the facility would potentially be converted into a surgical specialtiy center with a focus on neuroscience. Insight Surgical Hospital plans to invest $1.5 million in short-term renovations and $20 million over the long-term, and expects to create more than 300 jobs at the facility.

“The COVID-19 crisis of 2020 is an existential threat to our community. It has consumed the collective resources of our country, the repercussions of which will be felt for generations,” said Dr. Jawad Shah, Chair of the Board of Directors of Insight Surgical Hospital. “Time is of the essence for all in the health care community to respond to this unprecedented challenge to save precious lives. We hope that Insight, through God’s grace, can participate in the mosaic of care needed to respond to the urgent needs of our community.”

The Insight Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience (IINN) will convert the vacant hospital to open with an 80-bed capacity as soon as April 17. It has the potential to grow to a 440-bed facility.

“It is critical that we bring every resource we can to bear as we fight the devastating impact of COVID-19,” Wayne County Commission Chair Alisha Bell (D-Detroit) said. “Through today’s action, we are putting an important resource back into use at this very important time in everyone’s life.”

The 128,000 square-foot Vibra Hospital is located on a 14-acre site on West Outer Drive in Lincoln Park. The $500,000 is part of the CDBG funds allocated to Wayne County under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.

“This facility has been underutilized for years. Located on Outer Drive it is ideally positioned to create hospital space for patients from Downriver and Detroit as COVID-19 cases surge,” said Thomas E. Karnes, Mayor of Lincoln Park. “Beyond serving an important role in the regional response to COVID-19, we are excited for the long-term prospects at this site. Having a functioning hospital there again would spur other investment and also provide a boost to some of the important development under way in that area of Lincoln Park.”

MORE: What the CDC says you should do if you believe you have coronavirus (COVID-19)

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Click here for more guidelines from the CDC.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

Read more about coronavirus here.


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