The Arapahoe County Fairgrounds have been converted to a tier 4 alternate care facility for COVID-19 patients to help alleviate crowding at regional hospitals. The temporary facility will host cases that don’t require acute or critical care. Upon opening, the site can hold 54 individuals and can increase capacity up to 150 if the need arises. The medical shelter is the product of a multi-agency response team that completed the transformation in a matter of days with the help of the Colorado National Guard.
The alternate care facility does not accept walk-up patients and is not a hospital. Rather, the facility operates as a medical shelter and is best suited for those patients who are ready to return to their original housing situation but are unable to do so because of their circumstances. Local hospitals will make direct referrals for guests to the facility. The temporary alternate care facility is being managed by the Arapahoe County Emergency Operations Center (EOC), with paramedics and medical students providing care and observation for recovering guests.
“We are grateful to have the expertise and resources to provide this much-needed facility for Arapahoe County,” said Nancy Sharpe, chair of the Board of County Commissioners. “Reducing patient loads on our hospitals means that those who need critical care can get it, and the temporary facility will provide observation and care for individuals recovering from the disease.”
The Emergency Operations Center—which operates under the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office—is managing the County’s response to the pandemic, working in partnership with the Board of County Commissioners, Tri-County Health Department, state and local officials. The EOC coordinates resources, implements emergency operations and handles logistics support for law enforcement and municipalities across the County.
Building on established emergency plans, the EOC outfitted the facility, relocating existing supplies such as durable medical equipment and beds from across the County. Local municipalities and nonprofits also donated to support the facility, including use of a shower trailer donated by the nonprofit Aurora Warms the Night. The EOC also finalized contracts with local businesses for feeding, linens, sanitizer stations, janitorial services and security.
Assisting with the transformation of the site was the South Metro Fire District, Sable Altura Fire Department, the Colorado National Guard, Xcel Energy, Rocky Vista University and Concorde Career College. “Arapahoe County is fortunate to have amazing partnerships in place to assist with our COVID-19 response. The skill, ability, and resourcefulness of our partners allowed us to convert this building to an alternate care facility in record time,” said Nate Fogg, the County’s emergency manager. “Their contributions are monumental and important for our efforts to maintain the health and safety of all Arapahoe County citizens.”