Georgia Has Started Treating Coronavirus Patients In Atlanta’s Convention Center

The patient arrival area at a temporary hospital is viewed at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

Ron Harris, Pool / Associated Press

The makeshift hospital already up and running in Atlanta’s convention center is providing 200 recovery beds as the number of COVID-19 cases surge statewide.

The converted area at the Georgia World Congress Center is much more advanced than just a cot in an isolation room. Officials with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency played a key role in transforming the convention center.

GEMA Deputy Director Mark Sexton said the center’s focus is on the patient with mild-to-moderate symptoms of coronavirus.

“The intent is to let the local area hospitals have a location where they can move the patient out that are beyond their most critical needs, and place them in this facility so we can let them complete their recovery,” Sexton said. “It looks like a hospital.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has said that testing still lags in Georgia. The governor also acknowledged that moving more coronavirus patients to the Georgia World Congress Center, plus sending units to hard-hit rural areas, will start to ease pressure on overwhelmed state hospitals.

Sexton said the state is subcontracting with healthcare company AMI to bring in medical staff, in coordination with the Grady Health System. But, he said, medical professionals are mostly coming from out-of-state.

“Part of the contract with the company inferred that they would not be able to hire any local medical professionals that are currently employed in the state,” Sexton said.

Currently, the models GEMA uses show Georgia’s coronavirus peak right around April 30.

Sexton spoke with “Morning Edition” host Lisa Rayam about transforming the convention center.