MINNEAPOLIS (Up News Info) – As cities across the country anticipate the spread of COVID-19, a community in western Minnesota is putting an older facility into use.
From 1992 to 2010, the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton housed prisoners from across the country. Now, it will become a medical center.
"About two weeks ago I realized it was going to be much bigger than I thought it was before," said Dr. Brandon Chase Osbon of CCM Health in Montevideo.
Osbon had his doubts about converting a former correctional facility into a medical building building. But those doubts did not last long.
"I was really impressed. I thought we could make some adjustments and turn this from a prison to a hospital, "said Osbon.
Since then, workers have been busy giving previous cells a sense of medical care.
“They are bringing in some liquid oxygen tanks, pipes, copper pipes. And they can deliver it to the rooms, ”said Osbon. "All of these rooms need oxygen. It is one of the many things people need to receive supportive care with COVID-19. "
Patients may also come from across western Minnesota.
Five health centers span three counties: Swift, Chippewa, and Lac Qui Parker. They will start with 11 beds, but can quickly expand to 88.
"If we mix our COVID-19 patients with our patients with congestive heart failure in conditions like that, we also put those patients at risk," said Lori Andreas, CEO of Appleton Area Health.
Appleton Area Health is also connected to a senior care center. By separating potential patients with COVID-19, they fell and may delay the spread. Eventually they could treat up to 300 people at Tri County Covid Medical Center. But they hope it doesn't come to that.
"Our motto is 'let's get ready and we hope we don't have to use it,'" said Andreas.
The medical center will be ready for Monday, March 30. If they end up needing to house COVID patients, they hope the National Guard will help them establish a dining room for food.