Overflow Hospital for Potential COVID-19 Patients Set Up at Newtown Athletic Club

Newtown Athletic Club owner Jim Worthington (center in black shorts) stands with Robert Harvie, Bucks County Commissioner (at microphone), Scott Forster, director of Bucks County Emergency Management Services (long-sleeve blue shirt) and others inside the Newtown Athletic Club's Sports Training Center where officials have opened a field hospital for potential overflow of COVID-19 patients. ((Photo courtesy Newtown Athletic Club.))

The doors to the Newtown Athletic Club (NAC) in Newtown, Pennsylvania, are temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean the grounds aren’t being used. NAC owner Jim Worthington volunteered his club and his Newtown Sports Training Center to local, state and federal officials if they needed it during the pandemic. Bucks County Emergency Services took him up on the offer, setting up a 300-bed hospital inside the Newtown Sports Training Center to handle potential future overflow needs for the six area hospitals, according to a media release from the NAC, which is located in Bucks County.  

The facility opened on April 10, but as of April 13, it had not yet seen its first patient.

“The NAC, since 1978, has stood as a staple and cornerstone of the community during some of our nation's most difficult and trying times,” Worthington said in the release. “This hard time is no different. It is our privilege to be able to contribute and support our community in this small way.”

The Newtown Sports Training Center is a 40,000-square-foot indoor field house designed for sports activities and special events, such as large celebrations, exhibitions and car shows. Having this overflow space available so close to area hospitals is critical to dealing effectively with the potential community need during this time, the release noted.

“We don’t know that we’ll need this facility,” Scott Forster, director of Bucks County Emergency Services Department, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “But the time that we know we need this isn’t the time to get it ready. The time to get it ready is now.”

The facility could be used for people who have COVID-19 or those with other conditions, he said. As of April 13, the county had 1,229 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 219 recoveries and 38 deaths, according to the Bucks County Coronavirus information site.

“After 42 years of service to the community, we have never faced a situation such as this and are grateful to have the resources to support our community and country,” Linda Mitchell, NAC director of public relations, said in the release.