JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Alaska District will convert the Alaska Airlines Center near Providence Hospital into an alternate care facility for COVID-19 patients in Anchorage.
On April 6, the district received a mission assignment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and subsequent authorization from state partners to erect space for 51 additional hospital beds and associated nursing stations in the arena. A construction contract worth more than $1.26 million was awarded to Alaskan companies Neeser Construction Inc. and Paug-Vick Development Corp in a joint venture. The work is scheduled to begin April 13.
If the demand for hospital beds exceeds this construction project, then the FEMA mission assignment is in place to expand up to 160 beds with authorization from the state and area hospitals.
"The Alaska District is dedicating its expertise and capabilities to assist the State of Alaska with its response to the coronavirus health crisis," said Col. Phillip Borders, Alaska District commander. "The team is working with federal, state and local partners to provide engineering solutions to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We are Alaskans working for Alaskans."
On March 26, the district received its first mission assignment from FEMA. The next day, Corps officials inspected the 196,000 square-foot arena on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus for its viability as an alternate care facility.
In Alaska, the Corps formed two assessment teams - one each in Anchorage and Fairbanks - as well as a design team. The assessment teams will evaluate sites selected by the state. Meanwhile, the design team will apply the USACE design templates for expedient construction at the selected locations.
Across the country, USACE has received 40 FEMA mission assignments totaling about $1.7 billion with more than 15,000 personnel engaged across the enterprise to support the response effort both on site and virtually. USACE Emergency Operations Centers have been activated at 50 locations across our divisions and districts - including Alaska.
"We are prepared to tackle additional response missions in support of the state that may arise," Borders said.
Information pertaining to specifications and implementation of the alternate care facilities is available at https://www.usace.army.mil/Coronavirus/Alternate-Care-Sites/.
During emergencies, USACE is the federal government's lead public works and engineering support agency, and given its extensive work building medical facilities for its military stakeholders is uniquely qualified to meet this engineering challenge.