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State eyes ESU field house as a possible medical site

East Stroudsburg University's Koehler Field House could be used to free up space in hospitals.

EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. — As cases of coronavirus continue to rise, the Department of Health is looking for alternative medical sites.

One of the hardest-hit areas in Monroe County, officials are eyeing up East Stroudsburg University's Koehler Field House in East Stroudsburg as a possible site.

"We are looking to put in place a temporary medical facility in the northeast, and we are also looking to put a mass-testing facility in the northeast, and we will provide whatever resources are necessary to hospitals, health care systems, and long-term living care facilities in that area to safeguard the population," said Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.

Monroe County now has 671 cases of the virus and 17 deaths.

Lehigh Valley Hospital-Pocono officials tell Newswatch 16 they have off-site location backup plans already in place but are in discussion with PEMA in case capacity is reached.

"I will tell you that we at LVHN have the backing of a large network so we have overflow if we need to care for patients in different sites and we have other assets in this county that we can surge in the event we need to do that. We have not had to deploy those assets," said Elizabeth Wise, Lehigh Valley Hospital-Pocono President.

This isn't the first time the field house at ESU has been used for an emergency situation.

Back in 2012, a mega-shelter was set up at the field house to help people from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York who were evacuated from their homes or needed shelter because of Hurricane Sandy.

Health care officials say it is important to have options and safe places to put patients.

"We certainly want to work with our emergency management team and have the planning in place ahead of the need," said Wise.

There is no word on when or if Kohler Field House will officially be picked as an alternative medical site.

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