Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Alternative Hospital Site at the Rhode Island Convention Center

The Lifespan Alternative Hospital Site was constructed within the Rhode Island Convention Center in
Providence, RI in response to the anticipated need for surge capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In partnership with the state, including the Governor’s office, the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Rhode Island National Guard, Lifespan leadership brought to fruition a 600-bed facility with a full complement of hospital-level care capabilities.

Building the Lifespan Alternative Hospital Site

In a matter of weeks, the group engineered and executed a complex construction project, including
negative pressure ventilation, electrical service throughout the cavernous space, walls erected to mimic the corridors and curtains of a hospital, and finishing touches like walkways named for familiar streets throughout the state’s communities.

Completed in April 2020, the site stood at the ready through the first peak of COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island, but was not operationalized until the second peak, in Autumn. On December 1, 2020, the Alternative Hospital Site welcomed its first patients.

A Crucial Role

The Lifespan Alternative Hospital Site opened on December 1, 2020. It extended Lifespan hospitals’ capacity during the fall/winter COVID surge, eventually providing care to more than 500 patients over 12 weeks.

The Second Wave: Providing Relief for Stressed Hospitals

In this second wave, in contrast to the first, the Alternative Hospital Site played an important role in enabling the Lifespan Hospitals to continue normal operations, serving the everyday health care needs of their patients, despite the pandemic.

Its presence decompressed busy emergency departments and allowed COVID patients meeting certain criteria to be cared for in its dedicated COVID-only “warm” space, reserving more hospital beds for their usual purposes.

While fortunately the site never neared its massive capacity, it served between 30 and 40 inpatients on most days, a significant relief to the stressed hospitals.

Dedicated Staff from across Lifespan 

The dedicated corps of Alternative Hospital Site staff included those who stepped up from all corners of the Lifespan organization, coming together to care for 516 patients across a span of 12 weeks.

Physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, nursing assistants, social workers, pharmacists, phlebotomists, EMS personnel, food service staff, environmental services specialists, chaplains and others put in countless hours of service, many of them beyond their ordinary working hours.

A State of Readiness

On February 22, 2021, with case positivity rates in a steady decline statewide, and plunging COVID hospitalization numbers, it was announced that the Alternative Hospital Site would cease operations later that week for the time being, but remain in a state of readiness, should its resources become necessary again.

Lifespan Alternative Hospital Site Fast Facts

  • Constructed: April 2020
  • In operation: December 1, 2020 – February 24, 2021
  • Beds: 600
  • Patients treated: 516
  • Average length of stay: 3 days
  • Peak census: 42
  • Patient deaths: 0

Lifespan COVID-19 resources »