© 2023 KUAF
NPR Affiliate since 1985
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Former CA Building to House COVID Patients

The old Commercial Appeal building near downtown's Medical District.
Credit Screen Shot of WMC News Action 5 footage
The old Commercial Appeal building near downtown's Medical District.

 Listen to an audio version of the story.


The former home of Memphis’ paper of record is expected to become a temporary COVID-19 overflow hospital in about a month.

The now-vacant Commercial Appeal building on Union Avenue will be the region’s primary alternative care ward in advance of a predicted increase of cases to come in May.

The facility will house low-acuity patients, or less-severe cases that need medical monitoring but not necessarily an ICU bed.

“They would get there by first being screened at an emergency department and then they would be placed in that low-acuity setting based on their needs,” said Memphis’ Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen.

If the local pandemic peaks in late May or early June as officials predict, Shelby County could need an additional 1,000 hospital beds, about 400 of which will be located at the old Commercial Appeal building.

Gannett, which owns the newspaper, sold the property in 2018 and moved operations to Pembroke Square on Main Street the following year. 

The 495 Union Avenue location will allow for quick patient transfers to the nearby medical district. Officials are now seeking medical professionals not currently practicing to help staff the field hospital. 

A strip mall on Jackson Ave. will later serve as a secondary overflow center if necessary.

This post has been updated to reflect the timeline of when the hospital is expected to come online.  

Copyright 2020 WKNO

Katie joined the WKNO team in 2019. She's always eager to hear your story ideas. You can email her at kriordan@wkno.org