Larimer County coronavirus care facility at The Ranch delays opening, reduces capacity
The opening of two Colorado alternative care sites — including one in Loveland — for recovering COVID-19 patients has been pushed back until mid-May and downsized as Coloradans stay at home, helping to delay a surge in cases of the coronavirus.
Construction on nearly 200 beds at the First National Bank complex at The Ranch began last week and was expected to be ready for use by April 20 with another 800 beds at the MAC Equipment Indoor Arena open by April 29.
On Monday, the United Coordination Center in charge of the alternative care sites announced the center in Northern Colorado would have 195 beds and was expected to be operational on May 15, three weeks after Colorado's stay-at-home orders are expected to be relaxed.
The center expects the need for the additional beds will occur at that time.
So far, Northern Colorado hospitals have been able to meet the demands for COVID-19 beds, according to a news release.
As of Monday morning, Larimer County had 245 cases of the coronavirus and 13 deaths; Weld County had 1,121 cases and 68 deaths as the state's cases topped 10,000.
The alternative care sites, including the Colorado Convention Center in Denver with 600 beds, are designed to be medical shelters for coronavirus patients whose symptoms are not as acute. Moving the less acute patients to other facilities frees up hospital beds for the more seriously ill COVID-19 patients. The United Coordination Center is also finalizing the services related to the sites including staffing and equipment.
The alternative care sites are Tier 3 facilities, designed for patients recovering from the virus but who still require a level of care below what they would receive in a hospital or ICU (Tier 1) or ambulatory surgical center, free-standing emergency department or critical access hospital (Tier 2).
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis previously said patients could require a Tier 3 level of care for anywhere from one or two days to as long as two weeks. Some, he said, might have to return to Tier 1 or 2 facilities if their conditions worsen.
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Contractors working under the direction of the Army Corps of Engineers are building simple hospital rooms with walls, electrical connections, beds and oxygen hookups in the two complexes at the county fairgrounds. Each complex will have nurses’ stations, bathrooms and showers.
According to previous reporting, The Ranch facility could have accommodated up to 1,060 beds. Rent for the space will be $24,500 a day, according to the lease. The tab for April will be $565,100; in May, it will be $761,670.
A $1.54 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is being used to to pay the lease, according to Sen. Cory Gardner's office, which announced the grant on Monday.
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Coloradoan reporter Kelly Lyell contributed to this report.
Pat Ferrier is a senior reporter covering business, health care and growth issues in Northern Colorado. Contact her at email@example.com. Please support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a subscription today.