65ºF

Is the worst-case scenario hospital built at NRG Park good planning or unnecessary?

HOUSTON – The best-case scenario for the temporary 250-bed tent hospital that was just completed at Houston’s NRG Park is that it will never be used.

So far, the project has cost $11 million. The price tag could balloon to $60 million if used at full capacity for two months. As much as 75% of the cost could be reduced by federal matching dollars.

RELATED: Harris County invests $11 million for emergency healthcare facility at NRG park amid coronavirus pandemic

But, is this type of security banket worth it?

Depends on who you ask.

Darrell Pile is the President and CEO of SETRAC, an organization that monitors and maintains the medical care capacity in Southeast Texas. Pile believes the investment is a wise one -- insurance for the Houston-area against a situation like the one in New York.

“I think as a community, and as responsible civic leaders the NRG facility is wise,” Pile said Tuesday.

Still, Pile said that plenty of ICU bed space still exists in the Houston area.

“We’re running 1,600 to 1,700 in Intensive Care Units but 2,000 beds are available and there’s an additional 2,500 beds if we needed to expand those ICUs," Pile said.

Armed with that information, there is a counter-argument, not against preparation, but against building a new temporary structure that may never be used while existing infrastructure sits dormant.

Former Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, now a political analyst for KPRC 2, believes that county decision-makers should have more closely looked at both closed hospital facilities and the thousands of empty hotel/motel rooms.

“If you rented 250 hotel rooms at $200 a room, which above rack rate for a residence inn -- that only comes to $3 million for two months,” Emmett said.

That estimated price tag does not figure-in medical equipment to outfit 250 rooms, which would be a sizeable expense but it is well shy of the $60 million price tag attached to the temporary hospital at NRG Park, Emmett said.

More coronavirus coverage

Find cases by zip code: Harris County heat map shows coronavirus cases by ZIP code

• Cases by county: A breakdown of how many coronavirus cases there are by county in the Houston area

• Answering your questions: We’ve got answers to dozens and dozens of your health and financial coronavirus questions

• Haley’s Health Inbox: KPRC 2 reporter Haley Hernandez answers questions readers are sending her every day

• Coronavirus charts: Who is getting coronavirus in the Houston area? We’ve crunched the data in these charts

• Follow the curve: This chart shows you the curve for Houston cases since March 15

• When it will peak: This is when each state is expected to peak in deaths from coronavirus

• Interactive map: This is what the coronavirus spread looks like right now across the world right now

• Support Local: Find all the ways you can help local businesses in Houston

• Get newsletters: Sign up for a daily newsletter on coronavirus news and Haley Hernandez’s health inbox newsletter