FULTON • Itawamba Community College has plans to transform a facility on its Fulton campus into an official alternate care site if local rural hospitals were to become inundated with COVID-19 patients.

While still in the planning phase, the facility would free up to 100 hospital beds during the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The college is working with Gov. Tate Reeves’ office, the Mississippi Emergency Management Association (MEMA), Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other officials on the plans.

MSDH would operate the alternative care site, which would provide recovering COVID-19 patients a safe and comfortable setting while they are still being isolated and monitored. The facility was identified under the Federal Healthcare Resilience Task Force guidelines and would only be activated if the need arises, ICC said in a statement.

“We have the availability of a solitary residence hall and a large open space facility that can be used in this isolation setting,” ICC President Dr. Jay Allen said. “While this may not be an ideal situation, we are glad to assist the state in this historic time of need. It is our hope that the projections prove accurate and our alternate care site is never occupied, but we are prepared if the need arises.”

The college’s residence halls and facilities have been closed to the general public since March 6 as ICC observed spring break and then began addressing the COVID-19 spread which led all instruction to transition to online beginning March 23. The facility would not be accessed by ICC staff if the site is activated.

“It is the college’s priority not only to ensure the health and well-being of its community, but also that its students are able to complete their courses and advance their progress toward graduation, all while preparing contingencies to ensure the continued functioning of its operations,” ICC said in a statement.

As of right now, the activation of the alternate care site would not affect ICC’s current operational schedule. If any college facility is used for hospital overflow, it will be “completely sanitized post-activation” before returning to normal use.

blake.alsup@journalinc.com

Twitter: @AlsupTheWriter

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