Central Illinois doctor helping plan out alternative COVID-19 care sites


GALESBURG, Ill. (WMBD) — Dr. Josh Carpenter is a hospitalist at St. Mary Medical Center in Galesburg.

He’s also part of the 182nd Illinois Air National Guard based in Peoria.

He’s been on the front lines battling COVID-19 in Chicago, on a mission to find alternative care sites across the state that could house up to 12,000 patients within two weeks.

He says these alternative sites could really help the medical field respond to future pandemics.

“The hope is that this won’t be a new norm, however, the task force set a goal whenever we started to develop this process that this would be a process that would be reproducible in the future. We did recognize this was not something we could open a book and figure out who had done this before, that we were going to have to write this and do this in a way that we’re going to be able to re-evaluate and improve on going forward,” Dr. Carpenter said.

Dr. Carpenter says being part of the military has really allowed himself and the 182nd Illinois National Guard squad be efficient and impactful in their mission.

“The military’s able to offer a unique perspective with regards to how we utilize infrastructure to provide a goal or accomplish a mission. I think that’s where Peoria was able to shine and the Air Guard was able to shine. Certainly, as you see these roll out, you’re going to see infrastructure utilized in ways most people probably didn’t anticipate,” Dr. Carpenter said.

Carpenter was part of a multi-disciplinary team made up of a medical element and a civil engineering element. They were evaluating hotels and hospitals as ways to provide an alternative model for providing care to patients.

While he could not give specific locations what sites they have analyzed down state Illinois, he says there are going to be surge capacity in the remainder of the state as well.

“Even though we are behind some of the more urban areas, with regard to the surge that we’re seeing, we’re preparing for that surge even in central Illinois,” Dr. Carpenter said.

Dr. Carpenter says the work our medical workers and first responders are doing now will be a template for future generations to work off of when responding to any sort of crisis.

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