Spartan Arena will serve as a back-up location to Rutland Regional Medical Center if the hospital becomes overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.
In an email sent out to community leaders Tuesday evening, RRMC CEO Claudio Fort said the arena, which Castleton University has continued to operate since Diamond Run Mall closed last year, was the best location to accommodate a “patient surge.”
A discussion of what will be needed to make the site operational is scheduled for today.
“The State of Vermont Emergency Management Agency and the Agency of Human Services have been actively involved in this planning effort,” Fort wrote. “We would need their resources in order to stand up this type of facility. In addition, in order to operate an alternative care site of this scale would require the full support and engagement of every one of our Rutland County health care providers along with most of your agencies and organizations.”
Fort said RRMC has an average occupancy of 87 medical, surgical and intensive care patients. The hospital has contingency planning that could handle up to 195 patients at the Allen Street facility with the help of outside resources for staffing and equipment.
If that turns out not to be enough, Fort said, Spartan Arena can hold up to 150 more patients.
Meanwhile, local officials have been working on identifying facilities to provide emergency housing for people who need to quarantined but cannot do so at home.
“Any of the assisted living facilities — they will not be able to shelter there,” said United Way of Rutland County Executive Director Caprice Hover. “They would need to be moved so they’re not contaminating anybody else there. If an employee at the hospital needs to be isolated, they don’t want to send them home to their family where they might infect someone else.”
With all that comes logistical concerns, Hover said, like making sure the people in quarantine get three meals a day.
“If someone’s in substance abuse treatment, we’re going to need to figure out how to get them the medicine they need,” she said.
Hover said they are working with the state to select a “backbone organization” that would see such an effort — at a time when all such groups in the area are already overtaxed — which would then work to identify the best facility for such housing.