Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday announced details for a new 1,000-bed field medical station at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, which will provide additional support for local hospitals that have already been swamped with coronavirus patients.
Anticipating a surge in COVID-19 cases in the coming days, Baker said during a news conference at the State House this his administration worked collaboratively with Boston officials and community partners to provide an additional 1,000 beds for infected patients at the new field hospital.
Partners HealthCare will lead clinical care efforts at the field medical station. The makeshift facility will be called “Boston HOPE.”
The facility is expected to be ready to treat patients as early as Friday, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced.
“I hope we don’t have to use it, to be quite honest,” Walsh said Thursday of the medical station. “This is a virus and it’s very unpredictable.”
The field medical station will have 500 beds reserved for individuals infected with coronavirus and 500 will provide shelter for the homeless population.
The convention center site is the latest field medical station to be stood up by the state’s Coronavirus Command Center and its partners in the healthcare community.
Northeastern University, Boston University, Hotel Boston, Emmanuel College, The Massachusetts Institute of Art, and Simmons University will be providing housing for Boston-area medical workers who need it, Walsh added.
A field hospital at the DCU Center in Worcester started taking virus patients on Thursday morning.
Baker also issued three emergency orders to further support the Commonwealth’s healthcare workforce and expand its capacity, as well as ensure access to in-patient services for COVID-19 patients. The orders include:
- Easing licensing restrictions for foreign-educated doctors to allow medical practice in the Commonwealth: This order specifically allows graduates of international medical schools who have successfully completed at least two years of postgraduate resident medical training in the US to be eligible for licensure in the Commonwealth. Read the Order.
- Expediting licensure of nursing students and graduates: This order allows nursing school graduates and students in their final semesters of nursing programs to practice nursing in advance of receiving a license, provided that they are directly supervised by other licensed medical professionals. Read the Order.
- Ensuring access to in-patient services: This order mandates that insurers must cover all medically required costs of COVID-19 treatment in out-of-network hospitals or other medical facilities with no charge to the patient, including co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance payments. Health care providers and medical facility insurers must accept the following rates for out-of-plan treatment:
- If insurers have a contract with a provider or facility: contracted rate even if the patient is not in a network that covers the provider or facility
- If insurer has no contract with a provider or facility: 135 percent of the applicable Medicare rate.
- Insurers may not balance bill, or charge, patients for amounts above the above specified payments.
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