Officials push to reopen unoccupied hospital for COVID-19 patients

Congressman Al Green is taking a look at an unoccupied Houston hospital as a potential spot to house patients, if necessary, as COVID-19 continues to spread.

The building is in the Westbury area where the congressman took a tour this afternoon of the building which has been closed since 2017. Now it could reopen as a spot to house COVID-19 patients.

"For it to just be here unused is not helpful to the community,” says Congressman Green.The 100,000 square foot, three-story building has been a number of health facilities over the years. Now it could become a spot to house Novel Coronavirus patients.

"This may be a possibility. I’ve spoken to Mr. Fred Bhandara. He came to me and offered this facility. It was Westbury Community Hospital at one time,” says the Congressman.

From 2010 to 2017 it was the Hopebridge Mental Hospital which building owner Fred Bhandara says closed just before Harvey after losing its licensing. Bhandara says the building flooded in the hurricane, has been remediated and now needs to be renovated.

"He says he will himself do all the renovations necessary,” says Congressman Green.

LIVE: Interactive Coronavirus case data and map

"If I had to predict, we can get some rooms available between 30 to 60 days,” explains Bhandara.

"Perhaps it can be part of the revitalization of this community. There will be jobs here. Some of the people from the community are likely to have jobs here,” says Congressman Green.

"We are looking at all potentially available resources, building spaces, buildings that were once hospitals. We are working with hotels to potentially lease space for people who can’t self-quarantine. We are looking for ways to help the homeless community," Mayor Sylvester Turner says.

Congressman Green now plans to contact the state regarding potentially using this facility.

"I understand there is an Emergency Management Division of the state of Texas that’s looking into these kinds of things and if necessary we’ll contact various federal agencies," he said. 

Congressman Green says exploring additional medical options now will avoid scrambling to do it when and if overcrowding becomes a problem.

RELATED: Do you qualify for a stimulus check in Senate's coronavirus response bill?