U.S. ARMY PHOTO BY JUSTIN GRAFF, USACE ALBUQUERQUE DISTRICT PUBLIC AFFAIRS
SOUTH PACIFIC DIVISION
Contractors work to convert space in Miyamura High School into an alternate care facility in Gallup, New Mexico, installing distributed oxygen lines (above) and other infrastructure.
create bed space by the thousands and serve as the foundation for an incredible surge of medical capacity. Districts throughout USACE mobilized rapidly to sync with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its respective state leaders to assess possible locations for alternate care facilities (ACFs). The Albuquerque District was tasked with leading the USACE rapid COVID-19 response mission in New Mexico and for the Navajo Nation, building a total of four ACFs in less than 30 days.
NEW MEXICO The Albuquerque District began assessing possible ACF locations March 20, and completed 12 site assessments across New Mexico after only one week. Assessments were conducted at Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Gallup, Farmington, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces. Each assessment included looking at electrical power capabilities, plumbing, physical space, computer network capabilities, health care-to-worker line 90
of sight, proximity to primary hospitals, and other factors for determining a suitable ACF location. “We wanted to be proactive and get as much data as we could early,” said Lt. Col. Robin Scott, Albuquerque District deputy commander and USACE COVID Response Task Force commander for New Mexico. “Ultimately it’s on the state leadership to decide where they want these facilities to be built, and they have to work that through FEMA, who will then give us the mission assignment to start building,” Scott said. “We want to make sure the governor and the COVID response committee have as much information as possible to help [with] their decisions and make sure they aren’t waiting on us at all.” The first ACF mission assignment was for a 200-bed-space renovation at the Gibson Medical Center, previously the Lovelace Hospital, in Albuquerque. Upon receiving the mission assignment from FEMA, the district’s real estate lawyers, contract specialists, and engineers went to work to secure a lease for the space and get contractors in the building.