Five health care organizations in western Minnesota are taking a proactive stance in preparation of the number of COVID-19 cases that could occur in the communities they serve. Appleton Area Health, CCM Health of Montevideo, Johnson Memorial Health Services of Dawson, Madison Healthcare Services, and Swift County Benson Hospital are working together to create a critical care facility for patients in and near Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, and Swift counties who have confirmation of the COVID-19 virus.

The Tri-County COVID Medical Center (TCMC) will operate out of and utilize the space in the vacant Prairie Correctional Facility, which is owned by CoreCivic and located in Appleton, should there be a high volume of COVID-19 cases in the region. The facility is being provided to TCMC at no cost – meaning no financial benefit to CoreCivic. The facility will be staffed and managed by health care professionals, and CoreCivic will devote a small staff to maintain the building.

Leadership from the area health care organizations felt the correctional facility was the best fit in the tri-county area to start this endeavor because of its robust medical and sanitation facilities, a design that allows for triaging patients, and it is turnkey. Teams from each health care organization have already begun planning and meeting at the proposed location. If all support and resources come together, the TCMC is projected to open March 30, 2020.

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