May 13, 2020

What a Difference a Day Makes: from Convention Center to Field Hospital

General assembly during the 2020 AKAS conference.
(Exhibit Hall at the Connecticut Convention Center)

It was just over two months ago when the Connecticut Convention Center was bathed in hues of pink and green during the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (AKAS) convention. Over 10,000 members from around the northeast region descended on Hartford and enjoyed the city’s restaurants and attractions on their return visit. Aside from the educational seminars, dinner, dancing and sisterhood camaraderie, the group followed its tradition of community service by offering free breast cancer screenings to the public.

Clad in the sorority’s signature colors, the exam station was staffed by the many doctors, nurses and medical professionals who are part of the AKAS’ membership. More than 50 women received free assessments during the Mobile Mammogram Unit’s two days of operation on Friday at the convention center and Saturday at the Wilson Gray YMCA. It provided an opportunity for those who may be typically underserved.   

Left to Right: Cheeneah Armstrong-North Atlantic Regional Conference Co-Chair, Mobile Mammography Unit, Tracey Cameron–North Atlantic Regional Conference Program Vice Chairman; Dr. Tonja Ringgold - North Atlantic Regional Representative, International Program Chair; Mary Bentley LaMar-North Atlantic Regional Director; Dr. Glenda Glover-International President Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated; Kasey Coleman - Second International Vice President Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated; Carolyn Thomas-North Atlantic Regional Conference Chair, Mobile Mammography Unit
Members of the AKAS at ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Mobile Mammogram Unit.

Weeks later, the chairs and dais staging in the convention center’s exhibit hall were replaced with more than 600 beds transforming it into a field hospital. The set up stood poised to provide relief to regional hospitals with overcapacity due to the onset of the COVID-19 crisis should it be necessary.

Bed and partition set up in the Connecticut Convention Center Exhibit Hall.

Since its opening in 2005, the Connecticut Convention Center has been an ardent economic contributor to the greater Hartford region and the state. Hosting trade and public shows, galas, graduations, and national conferences demonstrates the adaptability of the venue. A medical facility would have been an undertaking of a decidedly different nature, but the convention center will continue to support the well-being of Connecticut residents.