Organizers of a historic black hospital petition officials to be a coronavirus overflow site

Watch: Organizers of a historic black hospital petition officials to be a coronavirus overflow site

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Organizers of a historic black hospital in Memphis want the US Army Corp of Engineers to select its location as a COVID-19 overflow site.

Collins Chapel Hospital owns a page in Memphis medical history, especially in the African American community.

“Many of leaders were born there,” said Bishop Henry Williamson, Sr of CME Church and the leader of the effort to rebuild the hospital. “Our black doctors and nurses, it was the only place they could practice.”

Content Continues Below

The hospital began renovations but only 40 percent of the renovations are complete with a two-million-dollar investment.

Williamson said that makes the facility a blank canvas and suitable as an alternate site if hospital bed space is need because of a COVID-19 surge.

“We’d like to see it utilized for the crisis moving forward,” Williamson said.

Williamson said his staff wrote Governor Bill Lee and the US Army Corp of Engineers offering the facility for consideration.

FOX13 wanted to know the status of the offer.

The Corp of Engineers sent us an email.

It stated that their team performed an assessment of the Collins Chapel Hospital on April 2 and sent the results back to the state of Tennessee for them to make a determination.

“We not only have the building with adequate space, medical side but land space,” Williamson said.

The challenge for this site is that much work still needs to be finished.

According to the Chapel website, the hospital needs to have HVAC, some of the electrical systems, plumbing and fire alarm.

“The most important location is that is near and convenient to our medical systems,” said Doug McGowen, City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer.

Williamson said Collins Chapel Hospital fits those requirements.

“We have tremendous opportunity to have the Army Corp of Engineers build out what is needed,” Williamson said.

FOX13 emailed and called the TN Emergency Management Agency to find out if Collins Chapel is still an option.

We have not heard back.

For the latest on coronavirus, stream FOX13 News on FOX13 Memphis Now – it’s free on your Roku, Amazon Fire or Apple TV as well as your FOX13 News App.