St. Paul's five downtown hospitals are getting ready to deal with the Republican National Convention this September and the thousands of visitors it's expected to bring to the city.
The hospitals believe they may see an uptick in emergency room visits with so many people jamming downtown while the convention is underway. But the hospitals don't expect the convention will impair their ability to serve local patients.
Rick Huston is director of plant operation at Regions Hospital. He said it will be business as usual for his hospital during the convention.
"We're here. We're open. We're ready and we will maintain access to our facility at all times. We've gone through all the what-ifs and we don't expect our facility will be dramatically affected by any of the activities downtown," Huston said.
Regions will be keeping a close eye on its parking ramps and lots to make sure they stay available for patients, visitors and some 4,000 employees.
United Hospital, just a few blocks from the Xcel Center, is losing an employee parking lot to convention attendees and access to the hospital via Kellogg Boulevard will be blocked, too.
But spokeswoman Terri Dresen said there will be plenty of parking still available at United and many alternative routes to the hospital.
"There are multiple options to choose from to get to united hospital whether it be the Grand exit, Shepard road. And then we're telling people, say on 94, to take the Dale exit. And then kind of zig-zag down. So, we're not anticipating any major issues when it comes to access to our hospital," Dresen said. United is the third largest hospital in the Twin Cities. It has has more than 3,000 employees in St. Paul.