The famed DCU Center, known for its wide-ranging sports and entertainment events in Worcester, Massachusetts, is now being converted into a makeshift hospital with 250 beds to treat coronavirus patients.
"We are now the first place in Massachusetts that will have this field medical unit which will allow expanded capacity to support our hospitals," said City Manager Edward Augustus Jr.
Worcester health officials are predicting the number of incoming COVID-19 patients will outnumber the beds currently available to treat them.
"If you look at the projections, right now, we're doubling the number of patients in our ICU and on our floors about every three to four days," said UMass Memorial CEO Eric Dickson.
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The arena's 50,000 square feet will be used to treat patients who are too sick to go home but not ill enough to be in the hospital.
"Our plan is to use this facility for the least sick patients among us," Dickson said. "Our hospital will be full with intensive care unit patients."
The goal in establishing this field medical station is simple: to avoid overwhelming hospitals and their staff — and, most importantly, to save lives.
"Keep that mortality rate from this horrible disease as low as possible," Dickson said.
Officials say the peak in hospital patients and beds needed will begin in about a week and a half. The DCU Center will be staffed with UMass Medical School students, who will be graduating early and eager to work.
Meanwhile, in Cambridge, Spaulding Hospital is also planning for a surge in cases. It has converted its fourth floor into an area dedicated for up to 60 COVID-19 patients.