UMass Memorial Health Care on Sunday began treating COVID-19 patients at the field hospital the state has re-established at the DCU Center.
At least five patients have arrived at the reopened hospital as of early Sunday afternoon. The hospital is currently staffed to accept up to 25 patients in its first week.
At full capacity, the Worcester field hospital can accommodate 220 patients and will have greater abilities than when about 125 patients were treated at the former Centrum Centre in the spring.
The hospital is accepting patients from across the state.
The field hospital this time around will have the ability to conduct on-site chest X-rays, provide oxygen and IV therapies, administer inhaler and nebulizer treatments, and will have access to on-site advanced life support. Advances in COVID-19 treatments since the spring mean that doctors and nurses at the field hospital will have additional tools at the ready, like remdesivir, monoclonal antibodies and convalescent plasma.
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When the National Guard built the new field hospital, it was designed to be more comfortable and less isolating for patients. This go around includes showers, an area for COVID-19 patients to interact with each other, recumbent exercise bikes and more.
Dr. Eric Dickson, president and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care, said Thursday that his staff had a list of COVID-19 patients it could transfer to the field hospital as soon as it opens. He also expressed concern if the field hospital becomes to capacity, then the state would see troublesome cases.
“If we have 220 here, that means the state is in big trouble in terms of its capacity in the hospitals," said Dr. Dickson.
The field hospital will take those with less serious cases of COVID-19. The set up will allow for other hospitals in the area to care for patients with serious cases of coronavirus and other illnesses.
“We’ll maybe be up to 10 or 15 by tomorrow, and we’ll see what happens from there," said Dr. Dickson.
Another field hospital is expected to open this month in Lowell.