The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church has offered Collins Chapel Connectional Hospital for extra bed space during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Bishop Henry M. Williamson.
The church is offering to partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other government agencies to complete an ongoing renovation of the historic hospital so it is ready to treat COVID -19 patients.
Collins Chapel was the only local hospital that accepted African-American patients during the Jim Crow era.
“We have an unprecedented worldwide crisis and that would include Memphis and Shelby County,” Williamson said Wednesday. “We are available and we want to once again provide for the needs of all citizens.”
The hospital is undergoing a $5 million renovation that is 40 percent complete.
Williamson said the two-story hospital, located at 409 Ayers St., could accommodate 100 beds and more could be placed in a nearby clinic.
Williamson said he has spoken with Gov. Bill Lee concerning other matters, before this pandemic.
Patricia Rogers, who is handling public relations ion the project, said copies of the proposal to make use of Collins Chapel has been sent to public officials, including Gov. Bill Lee and Mayor Jim Strickland.
“We are aware that the federal government has the money to build out the rest of the hospital for this public health crisis,” Rogers said.
Jim Pogue, spokesman for the Memphis District of the Army Corps of Engineers, said the information has been passed on to the decision makers.
“What everyone needs to understand is we don’t make the decisions about what facilities will be assessed. Those decisions are being made by the State of Tennessee and FEMA.”
Pogue said the engineers are given a list of places to assess to see if they meet the need for additional bed space.
Collins Chapel’s roots date back to 1910 when the facility was located at 418 Ashland Court. In February and in observance of African American History Month, the hospital had a Reunion Day for persons who were born there, including patients and medical.
Williamson is chairman for Collins Chapel Connectional Hospital and is spearheading the renovation project. He said the CME Church has already invested $2 million in the project and that Mayor Strickland and Paul Young, the city’s director of Housing and Community Development, had identified $100,000 for a new roof on the clinic.