Glen Mills School to be used for medical overflow facility

A shuttered reform school for boys in Glen Mills will be used as a medical overflow facility as coronavirus cases increase and hospitals are pressed for space.

On Friday, Chairman Brian Zidek and Emergency Services Director Tim Boyce announced that the Glen Mills School will serve as a Federal Emergency Medical Station for the region.


The site will be set up to serve as a medical facility for patients with low-acuity conditions from regional hospitals. The site can house patients recovering from surgeries not related to COVID-19 in the event that a hospital is full treating COVID-19 patients. 

The National Guard will be setting the site up in the next few days and it will be staffed by medical personnel from hospitals across the region.

The Glen Mills School has medical and dental facilities, an air field, a generator and a more than 85,000 square-foot athletic facility that could host patients from hospitals and other health care facilities.

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration has stressed the need for hospitals to ramp up equipment, staffing and bed space to handle the expected surge in coronavirus patients in the coming weeks. Among the facilities being considered are hotels and outpatient surgical facilities, Health Secretary Rachel Levine has said.


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The school was a reform school and juvenile detention facility serving about 200 boys, but Gov. Tom Wolf's administration revoked the school's licenses and ordered its students removed after The Philadelphia Inquirer detailed decades of alleged abuse and cover-ups at the 193-year-old campus.

Wolf's administration said Friday that the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, along with federal and local government agencies, is assessing a number of sites across the state to become housing or medical facilities. No plans or agreements have been finalized, according to the administration.

As a whole, Pennsylvania has 37,000 hospital beds, although many are occupied.

The state Department of Health has confirmed more than 1,680 cases of coronavirus through Wednesday, and more than 1,000, or 60%, are in Philadelphia or its four suburban counties.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.


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The Associated Press contributed to this report.