Field hospital at DCU Center in Worcester begins accepting coronavirus patients

WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - A field hospital set up at the DCU Center in Worcester opened Thursday morning to accommodate the influx of coronavirus patients.

The National Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency worked for about a week to convert the arena into a more than 200-bed medical facility.

Peter Lancette, associate chief nursing officer of field operations, says a limited number of patients will be accepted at first as they make sure everything runs smoothly.

“We’re doing the crawl, walk, run phase just to test it out,” he said. “I mean, that’s our goal today to admit 10 patients and work through our processes to make sure all our systems are working and be able to deliver safe care.”

Worcester paramedics are available for patients who need to be transported to local hospitals in the event that a patient needs extended care.

The DCU Center is the state’s first field hospital. The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and the Joint Base Cape Cod in Bourne are also being converted.

Meanwhile, Gov. Charlie Baker filed legislation to expand liability protection for healthcare workers during the pandemic.

Baker said that he is issuing a directive to maximize protections for healthcare workers and healthcare facilities under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, also known as the PREP Act, so they don’t have to worry about being sued for the medical care that they provide during the peak in the virus outbreak.

“We need to make sure that fear of getting sued doesn’t prevent them from being able to do what they need to do to treat as many people as possible,” he said.

Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders added that the state will now track coronavirus cases by race and ethnicity to “better understand where and whom the burden on of the disease is falling.”

Officials continue to urge the public to stay home, practice social distancing, and be diligent about maintaining good hygiene habits.

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