As cities across the United States brace for the inpouring of severe COVID-19 cases to hospitals, many are rushing to fill the anticipated shortage of hospital beds. According to 2020 data from the American Hospital Association, there are 924,107 staffed hospital beds in the United States, not all of which may be suitable for COVID-19 patients. With an estimated hospitalization rate somewhere between 10% and 15%, experts are forecasting peak hospital resource needs by mid-April. By that time, hospital bed shortages are forecast to be greater than 87,000 units across the country.
Cities are acting quickly to support new overflow, or “pop-up” hospital facilities erected in the hardest hit areas for both COVID-19 patients and others needing hospitalization. Utilities are working around the clock to ensure power supply and quality need for these facilities.
In New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, Consolidated Edison Co. has reviewed and assessed energy needs for more than 10 proposed medical assistance locations and provided energy solutions, equipment and infrastructure to support locations in Manhattan, Westchester County and Brooklyn.
“Con Edison’s dedicated workforce is on the job and ready to make sure New Yorkers have the energy they need. From powering up new medical facilities, to providing economic relief to customers in need, the men and women of Con Edison are committed to providing reliable power and keeping our customers and employees safe through this crisis,” said Al Marchione, emergency operations supervisor at Con Edison.
At the Central Park Manhattan Samaritan’s Purse site, Con Edison completed installation of shunts across 5th Ave to provide the electricity required, supporting the 68 new beds at that location. At the Westchester County Center (50 beds), the utility installed a 500 kVA pad-mount transformer and engaged in necessary civil/splicing work to extend additional power to the site.
The Coney Island MCU Park parking lot, home to the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball team, has been converted into a drive-through mobile testing facility. To support that site’s needs, Con Edison tapped into the secondary of a transformer and set up a temporary shed with two 200 A breaker panels to power equipment.
The situation in Illinois is escalating quickly, with more than 11,000 COVID 19 cases confirmed on Monday. The Chicago facility at McCormick Place—the site previously scheduled to host the IEEE PES T&D Conference and Expo—will be licensed as an Alternate Care Facility where ComEd will support power care equipment for patients with less serious illness. Currently ComEd is performing proactive inspections of facilities that provide power to McCormick Place, and particularly those halls that are being designated as the Alternate Care Facility. ComEd has also validated contingency plans including the deployment of temporary generators to pre-defined locations to restore service should it be needed.
“We design, plan, and operate the grid to provide resilience, reliable and affordable power to every customer; in times like these, we are even more aware of the impact of our commitment to doing all we can to provide exceptional service,” said Shay Bahramirad, vice president of Engineering and Smart Grid for ComEd.
“We are working with Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, county and city officials, our customers and community partners to make sure we are powering the essential services and equipment that health care providers need during this critical time,” Bahramirad said.
To see vidoe of Con Edison working to support the overflow in Coney Island, see . https://players.brightcove.net/954168402001/ryUAFUp0_default/index.html?videoId=6142697533001.