02 Apr CMO Cartu Jon Lectures – Coronavirus field hospital to open in Worcester, Boston conventio…
Worcester’s DCU Center will soon open as the state’s first field hospital to handle overflow coronavirus patients, while Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration is “deep” into conversations to make the South Boston convention center the second.
Without those additional facilities, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito told reporters there “will not be enough capacity in Massachusetts ICU’s to handle coronavirus patients.”
Baker said he “can’t answer” yet whether the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center will be tapped for a temporary medical clinic, but said his administration is “pretty deep” into conversations with Boston hospitals and city officials.
Massachusetts’ hospitals aren’t yet nearing their capacity, but the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations is starting to reach near exponential growth and Baker said his administration would do “everything we can to make sure that we put in place the capacity that people believe they need.”
State health officials on Wednesday announced 682 COVID-19-related hospitalizations, with 4,716 cases still “under investigation.”
During a visit to the DCU Center on Wednesday, Baker said he was in “daily conversations” with local and public health officials for plans to handle that surge regionally in Boston, on the Cape, South Coast, Western Massachusetts and Merrimack Valley.
“Each strategy is going to be based on the existing capacity that exists in each of those places, and what people’s anticipated requirements in a surge are going to demand,” Baker said.
The governor has said a surge of coronavirus patients is expected to hit the state between April 7 and 17.
As Baker spoke on Wednesday, tradesmen and the National Guard set up a makeshift hospital floor inside Worcester’s expansive concrete events center, erecting black privacy screens and setting up cots, offering a glimpse at what the field hospitals would look like. The DCU Center will have a 250-patient capacity, Polito said.
“Step down locations” such as the DCU clinic will handle less severe coronavirus patients, opening up capacity in intensive care units at hospitals, Baker said.
Open, expansive floor plans like at Worcester’s DCU Center and South Boston’s convention center are preferred spaces to “quickly” set up additional medical capacity, Baker said, adding the Army Corps of Engineers has a “cookbook” of proven models for such spaces.
Empty dormitories and hotels will likely be tapped for health-care workers and for isolation and quarantine opportunities, Baker said.
The Baker administration is working with local health systems and municipalities to find and staff temporary hospitals as the state braces for the anticipated surge.