Meet the man tasked with turning SeaGate Centre into an overflow hospital

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Lucas County is looking to a veteran of disaster preparedness to help put together its COVID-19 response.

Dr. Paul Rega from UTMC taught a class for 10 years about preparing for and responding to a pandemic. Rega also has extensive experience in putting together disaster response.

He is part of the team assembling the SeaGate Centre as an overflow facility for patients during the expected surge of COVID-19 patients.

"We can manage hundreds of people, maybe up to 400 people," says Rega.

The site will initially handle non-COVID patients.

"So the walking wounded, the people with lacerations, the ankle sprains, the headaches, things of that sort. It may also be a place to transition patients from the hospital who are in the process of going home, but we could use their beds in the hospital, because the hospital is going to be the place where the COVID-19 patients are going to receive their initial care," Rega said.

Given the latest estimates on flattening the curve, SeaGate Centre beds may not even be needed.

"Maybe we've done everything we could possibly do," Rega said. "The population that we have in northwest Ohio with the social distancing and wearing their masks and things of that sort that we may ave already flattened the curve sufficiently enough that hospitals themselves can handle the COVID patients."

Rega added there is a team in place that is monitoring cases in the region on an hour-by-hour basis.

"We will see indicators and that could be bed space, that could be ventilator supply, that could be ED visits," Rega said. "And seeing any trend or any surge in any of those indicators will immediately trigger a response on he part of the teams to accommodate that."