Updated at 1:44 p.m. on March 27.
To prepare for a potential surge in COVID-19 cases that overwhelms local health care providers, Temple University’s Liacouras Center and TU Pavillion are being converted into a backup hospital for patients, said Ray Betzner, a spokesperson for the university.
The makeshift hospital would initially serve patients without COVID-19 who would otherwise get their treatment at a hospital, though there is no guarantee that it would not at some point be used to treat COVID-19 patients, Betzner said.
“The idea behind it is that as COVID-19 patients go to the hospitals in the city, they’re going to need to shrink their populations of other patients,” Betzner said. “The idea is that a hospital that will be built within the Liacouras Center would become a place where those patients come to complete their treatment so that the other hospitals in the city can free up beds for the COVID-19 patients.”
The center will be set up by the Army Corps of Engineers, Betzner said. There is no definitive plan to move patients there unless it becomes necessary due to a surge, he added.
The news comes after Philadelphia officials ended negotiations with Joel Freedman, the owner of the former Hahnemann University Hospital, to use the hospital for additional quarantine and field hospital space, PhillyVoice reported.
“Temple University has stepped up during this critical time,” Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted today. “We reached an agreement to use The Liacouras Center and other Temple facilities as hospital space. #TempleMade #ThankYouPhilly.”
“Temple is Philadelphia’s public university,” Temple University wrote in a tweet. “This is our fight too.”