Massachusetts reopening field hospital at DCU Center in Worcester as COVID-19 cases spike

A coronavirus field hospital will reopen at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker announced Friday. It will provide 240 beds and is expected to be ready as soon as the first week of December. 

It will be operated by UMass Memorial Medical Center.

The governor said UMass Memorial is “basically full” with COVID patients so that’s why the state is only reopening one field hospital for now, CBS Boston reports.

“I think you’re likely going to see us set up others,” Baker said at a news conference, noting that he wants to do it on a staged basis.

Back in the spring, five field hospitals were opened in Boston, Worcester, Lowell, Dartmouth, and Hyannis to deal with the surge. Ultimately, three were not used. All were closed by early June when cases went down.

DCU Center Arena Opens As Field Hospital For Covid-19 Patients
Medical workers wearing protective gear walk through the UMass Memorial Health Care field hospital at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, in April.

Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Things have changed with a spike of cases around the state in the last several weeks. 

“At our own Medical Center in Worcester we are full. We are right now starting to cancel elective procedures.” 
“Please. Please. Everyone follow the rules, every day,” said UMass Memorial Medical Center President Dr. Eric Dickson. 

“We believe that it’s possible to create the capacity that we need here in Massachusetts to treat non-COVID medical care and COVID medical care as we work our way through this surge,” the governor said. 

“Last spring, among other things, we made the very difficult decision to have hospitals focus almost exclusively on COVID patients at the expense of almost everything else… And as a result, over that period of time, there were many people who put off getting routine – and in some cases serious – medical care,” said Baker. That is not the expectation this fall and winter. 

Since Labor Day, coronavirus cases have increased by seven times and hospitalizations have doubled, according to Baker. 

“Every single person in Massachusetts needs to appreciate the significance of their role in dealing with the spread of this virus,” Baker said. “People need to change their behavior and get serious about who they spend time with, how they act.” 

He added, “We’re living in a pandemic. I know some people would prefer to think otherwise, but it’s true; and it’s real.”

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