Hotels, shuttered Illinois hospital put into service to help fight COVID-19 outbreak

A suburban hospital that has been closed since last year will re-open under a deal with the city of Chicago.

It’s the former Metro South Medical Center. You wouldn’t even know it because the sign has been removed.

The Blue Island hospital shuttered in Sept. 2019 has new owners and will soon be a temporary home to some dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have entered an agreement for 200 beds at Metro South,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “It will be up and running by Thursday.”

The mayor also announced five hotels in the city of Chicago will provide shelter during quarantine and isolation for some of the city’s homeless.”

The plan will start with 200 rooms by Tuesday and by the end of the week the total will be 1,000. 

The move will help the struggling hotel industry as some have been forced to temporarily close and others have seen occupancy drop well below 50 percent.

It’s not cheap, it will cost the city $1 million per month to house people at one hotel. The accommodations include three meals per day.

“I believe we have at least one person who has tested positive for coronavirus,” said Michal Banghart, Executive Director of Renaissance Social Services.

Banghart says the city’s plan is groundbreaking but there’s more to be done.

“The ability for people to be tested who are homeless and high risk,” said Banghart. “How to manage their care and quarantine them.”

This will be another site for coronavirus patients. Those who are mildly ill and can’t return to their homes without infecting others.

Workers at Hotel One 66 formerly known as Cambria will be properly trained, but quarantined guests will interact with the Illinois Department of Public Health workers.

Dr. Allison Arwady explains what the rooms are for.

“People that are waiting for test results, but can’t return home because of their living situation,” said Dr. Arwady. “We may use them to quarantine high-risk healthy individuals but they can’t return home because someone is sick at home.”