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Missouri’s first alternative care facility ready to open, accept patients


Missouri’s first alternative care facility is ready to accept COVID-19 patients and will open its doors on Tuesday, Gov. Mike Parson said. 

A Quality Inn motel in Florissant — just north of the city of St. Louis — was converted into the alternative care facility. It can accept medically-referred patients, Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Sandy Karsten said during the daily briefing Monday. 

A joint federal-state team, led by the Missouri National Guard, began assessing locations for alternative care sites to aid Missouri hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, Karsten said. 

The facility is able to accommodate more than 100 people and can hold individuals who have tested positive for coronavirus but show mild or no symptoms. It can also hold people who have been exposed to the virus and have been referred by health care professionals for treatment, the Governor’s Office said last week. 

People who no longer need acute care but still require some medical assistance can also be referred to the facility. 

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More than 4,300 Missourians have tested positive for coronavirus since early March and 114 have died. 

In the city of St. Louis, 639 people have tested positive and 17 have died as of mid-day Monday. But in St. Louis County those numbers are exponentially higher: 1,724 people have tested positive and 42 have died. 

A working group chose the Florissant site because it is in an area with the potential need for more hospital beds, has enough space for patients, and had the available utilities for immediate construction. 

President Trump partially approved a federal disaster declaration for Missouri at the end of March. Under the declaration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be responsible for covering 75 percent of the costs incurred by transforming the hotel into the facility and caring for patients there, according to the Governor’s Office. 

The Missouri National Guard will provide medical professionals to staff the facility, and DPS is reviewing applications from those who applied to join a specialized state team to assist with future alternative care sites. 

Parson activated the Missouri National Guard on March 27 to assist with the state’s response to COVID-19. 

Additionally, Parson said Monday he is confident in Missouri’s hospitals in tackling the global pandemic. He said hospitals have converted or added more than 1,000 intensive care beds, established remote testing sites, and have coordinated with federal, state, and local officials to get supplies and track data. 

“We have an excellent health care system, and I am extremely proud of and confident in our hospitals as we continue to fight COVID-19,” Parson said Monday. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.