Pasadena Convention Center preparing to be used as coronavirus treatment site

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The Pasadena Convention Center is seen in an undated photo. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

The Pasadena Convention Center is seen in an undated photo. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

The Pasadena Convention Center is being prepared to be used as an alternative facility for nearby Huntington Hospital should there be a surge in COVID-19 patients, city officials said Tuesday.

The city, in partnership with the 619-bed hospital, funded a 250-bed surge space at the Convention Center, after the Pasadena City Council unanimously voted Monday to establish a temporary medical facility for a three-month period.

According to a city report, Huntington Hospital projects that in mid-May, there could be as many as 1,300 people requiring hospitalization at the facility for coronavirus treatment. The city allocated up to $700,000 to fund the project and authorized a contract with Redrock Entertainment Services for labor, material and supplies, according to city records.

The facility will be furnished within a matter of days and will provide beds only if the hospital is unable to accommodate an influx of patients, Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek said in a video posted to Twitter.

“In the best case, we’ll never have to use the beds,” Tornek said. “But if we need them, we’ll be glad that we made them available.”

The makeshift facility may be ready as soon as Wednesday, Pasadena Now reported. However, is it unclear whether it will be used at all.

“As of now, we do not have a time frame of when (if we reach that point) the convention center will be used,” Crystal Williams, senior manager of marketing and communications for Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau, said in an email.

Other sites, including former St. Luke’s Hospital and Pasadena Unified School District sites, were also considered but the convention center was ultimately determined to be the most flexible with 97,000 square feet of space and located just one mile from the hospital.

The best case scenario is that the beds sit vacant and “it was a good exercise in setting up a temporary medical facility,” city spokesperson Lisa Derderian said.

Meanwhile, limited coronavirus testing will be conducted at the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The drive-up facility will only take the first 100 qualifying people, mainly those 65 years of age and older or with underlying health issues.

As of Tuesday, 80 people tested positive for the coronavirus in Pasadena, with two deaths.

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