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Tenting supports medical facility expansions to combat COVID-19

August 1st, 2020 / By: / Showcase

by Sigrid Tornquist

Select Event Group’s 10-bed units were designed to be used for expansion ER capacity or ICU capacity. Each structure included HVAC systems with air scrubbers to remove pathogens from the air.

When state and federal government officials made the decision to expand medical facilities in response to the anticipated surge of COVID-19 cases, they turned to tent professionals across the country to make it happen. Among the many companies that used their expertise to help the efforts were Laurel, Md.-based Select Event Group and Stamford, Conn.-based Stamford Tent & Event Services. 

Tenting for Maryland

Select Event Group responded to the state of Maryland’s need for tenting by designing and installing approximately 70 tents at almost as many sites within a 45-day window. “While I cannot speak to the state’s bid process, I do know that they considered other types of solutions, such as modular structures, as well as other tent providers,” says Alex Corgan, president of Select Event Group. “But at the end of the day, they evaluated us as the only company in the region with the inventory and resources to commit to [providing tenting for up to] 100 sites within 45 days.”

Outside emergency rooms, hospitals, detention facilities and more, the structures Select Event Group installed were typically 30-foot-wide clearspan engineered structures in approximately 2,000-square-foot footprints. The largest structure was 66 feet by 250 feet. The design for each included one side with a ramp for access and one side with steps; hardwall systems that allowed for headboards and other medical equipment to be mounted on them; 4-foot decking; vinyl flooring that could be washed and sanitized; and double-door access on both sides. 

Each installation was completed in three days, with a crew of four to five, and typically provided for a vestibule, nursing station, bathrooms and 10-bed units. Select Event Group installed HVAC, complete with air scrubbers to remove additional toxins, pathogens and pollutants from the air. 

Select Event Group installed nearly 70 tenting structures at medical and other institutional sites in Maryland to prepare for the anticipated increase of patient loads due to COVID-19. Crews of three to four worked on a three-day build time for each structure. Photos by Paul Corgan, Select Event Group.

Each site owner decided whether or not the structures were used to treat patients with COVID-19 or patients without COVID-19. The state also hired Select Event Group to provide tenting for testing sites once it received all its test kits. “It’s been a whirlwind and every week our definition of success changes a little bit because every day is a new target,” Corgan says. “The importance of this project certainly brought new meaning to our ‘purpose in partnership’ mantra.” 

Federally funded tenting

In April, Stamford Tent & Event Services was subcontracted by Indiantown, Fla.-based Disaster Management Group (DMG) to handle the installation of the tents and floors for a hospital in Paramus, N.J. DMG is an international disaster response firm specializing in the design, rapid mobilization, construction and operation of large-scale base camp and life support facilities. The company’s clients include the United Nations, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “As this was a federal project managed by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, everything had to be communicated up and down the proper chain of command,” says Steve Frost, president of Stamford Tent & Event Services. 

Stamford Tent & Event Services installed two 25-by-50-meter structures and one 10-by-30-meter Losberger structure to expand medical capacity at a hospital in Paramus, N.J., in response to COVID-19. Photo by Stamford Tent & Event Services.

For this medical facility expansion, Stamford Tent & Event Services installed two 25-by-50-meter and one 10-by-30-meter Losberger structures. The crew had two weeks to install the tents, including vinyl floor coverings and interior fitment including HVAC, insulated rigid walls and doors, sprinkler system, and lighting and plumbing. “Our crews (and others) essentially worked around the clock to meet the deadline,” Frost says. “Due to the extremely condensed load-in, there were continual changes to the installation requirements based on feedback from the other temporary hospital sites being erected.

“The structures were erected to act as overflow for patients without COVID-19, to free up space within the hospital for those with COVID-19, should the need arise,” Frost says. 

“I hope they never have to use these tents.” 

Sigrid Tornquist is a Minneapolis-based writer and editor, and a former InTents editor.