Austin Convention Center COVID-19 care site discharges last patients

On Saturday, March 20, the city of Austin announced that the Austin Austin-Travis County Alternative Care Site at the Austin Convention Center had discharged the last remaining patients.

The city said the ACS stopped admitting new patients on March 8 as hospital admissions continued to decline.

Opened in partnership between the city of Austin, Travis County and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), the ACS was founded in the summer of 2020 to provide acute care to patients, but remained idle until January 12, 2021.

During the winter surge, the ACS opened to admit COVID-19 positive patients to ease the burden on hospitals serving patients who need higher levels of care. The city said patients from across the central Texas area were admitted to the facility.

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The Austin Convention Center is being set up to care for people suffering from COVID-19

The Austin Convention Center is being prepared in case hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

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“The Alternative Care Site has been a critical factor in keeping our healthcare system stable,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority. “We are grateful to the state and all of the contract employees who have worked at the facility servicing residents across central Texas.”

The last patient who remained on the ACS was discharged on Saturday.

The city says the ACS cared for a total of 215 patients during its operation, with an average length of stay of about 12 days. While most of the patients were from Travis County, the ACS also served patients from across central Texas. The final balance had patients from 11 different counties.

“We are delighted that the facility is no longer needed. The power to never again need a COVID-19 alternative care website rests in the hands of the community,” said Dr. Jason Pickett of the Austin-Travis County Alternative Health Agency. “Getting the vaccine if you are eligible is more important than ever. As a community, we must continue to wear masks, wash our hands frequently, and keep our distance. This will, in certain cases, keep us away from further surge.”

TDEM said the supplies and materials used to operate the ACS will be dismantled and stored in a different location and can be reused in the event that cases increase.

TDEM indicated that staff would be available again if the facility had to be reopened.

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