During a recent briefing, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency executive director Greg Michel hinted at the possibility of using Itawamba Community College’s Fulton campus as a medical shelter if needed.
“We did answer the call from the state of Mississippi,” ICC President Dr. Jay Allen said on Tuesday’s episode of The JT Show. “We are fully committed.”
The campus would only be needed if Mississippi ran out of regular hospital beds. However, Governor Reeves noted that the current numbers are showing that extra hospital beds will not likely be needed.
ICC released the following statement in order to outline the situation at hand:
Itawamba Community College has a longstanding tradition of heeding the call to help others. Whether it be assisting a veteran to earn an associate’s degree after returning from war, training the next generation of healthcare providers or volunteering in its local communities.
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to impact our world, ICC has been asked to provide significant assistance for North Mississippi. The College is working with the Governor’s Office, MEMA, MSDH and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other officials to transform a facility on the Fulton Campus into an official alternate care site, freeing up-to 100 hospital beds during the peak of the outbreak.
While still in the planning phase, the facility would serve as a contingency site only if local rural hospitals were to become inundated. The Mississippi State Department of Health would operate this alternative care site which would provide recovering 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.
All 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. The College is currently operating under an altered schedule allowing a de-densified office setting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays while sanitizing takes place on Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends. All locations continue to be closed to the public for face-to-face interaction.
“We have the availability of a solitary residence hall and a large open space facility that can be used in this isolation setting,” said ICC President Dr. Jay Allen. “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.”
For the safety of ICC’s employees, the facility would not be accessed by College 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. Currently, the activation of the alternate care site would not affect the current operational schedule of the College. Any facility that would be used will be completely sanitized post-activation.
To listen to Allen’s interview on The JT Show, check out the video below.