COVID-19 Field Hospital Planned for UMass Dartmouth
Two more field hospitals are in the works for University of Massachusetts campuses in Dartmouth and Lowell, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday after touring the 94-bed medical center set up over six days at a Joint Base Cape Cod gymnasium.
An initial set of numbers posted Tuesday afternoon showed that the state had distributed 380 ventilators, plus hundreds of thousands of different types of masks, 179,733 gowns and more than 2.2 million gloves across various entities and regions.
A new hospital capacity report, based on numbers from Sunday, shows that about half of the state's total 15,900 beds suitable for COVID-19 patients are available.
"Our hospitals, who we're talking to every day, are managing the influx of new patients," Baker said. "Nobody is rationing anything, but we're still on the upswing in this pandemic. Everybody's done a great job."
He said a 95-bed field hospital in a UMass Lowell recreation center, a partnership with Lowell General Hospital, is on track to open Monday, and work on a 140-bed site at UMass Dartmouth will be finished up this week.
Three field medical centers have been set up so far – at the DCU Center in Worcester, the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and Joint Base Cape Cod.
The military base field hospital in Buzzards Bay will be managed by Cape Cod Healthcare. Michael Lauf, the head of the health care organization, said the facility will be able to treat patients this weekend.
Lauf said the "hospital that used to be a gym just six days ago" now has portable X-ray equipment, pharmaceuticals, lab work capability and electronic medical records access.
Patients will not be admitted directly, but will go through a traditional hospital and sent to the facility when it is appropriate. The field hospital will "take care of patients that are not quite as ill as you would generally see in acute care settings, but still not well enough to go home," he said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 126,551 people had been tested for COVID-19, and 28,163 people were confirmed to have the disease, according to the Department of Public Health. A total of 957 people in Massachusetts have died from COVID-19.
Baker said the data that state officials are using shows difficult days and weeks ahead. He has previously projected that a surge of COVID-19 cases and associated hospitalizations will peak around April 20.
"And that's precisely why we're here today and planning for what we call the worst-case scenario," he said. "We certainly hope we don't have to use these beds, or certainly not all of them, but we wanted to have a plan to make sure that we could if we needed to."
Baker declared a state of emergency 35 days ago. Schools and most businesses are closed, and residents remain under a stay-at-home advisory and have been asked to cover their faces if they do go outside for essential trips, including grocery runs and walks.