Lowell to host state's second coronavirus field hospital

Lowell to host state’s second coronavirus field hospital

BOSTON MA. – OCTOBER 1:  Gov Charlie Baker speaks to the media on the Coronavirus and the Green Line Extension Project at what will be the future Lechmere T stop on October 1, 2020 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)
BOSTON MA. – OCTOBER 1: Gov Charlie Baker speaks to the media on the Coronavirus and the Green Line Extension Project at what will be the future Lechmere T stop on October 1, 2020 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

WORCESTER – The Worcester field hospital being readied amid a second surge of COVID-19 will have “a lot more capacity” than it did when it was active in the spring, Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday morning, and it will be ready to take patients Sunday.

“Field hospitals play a critical role in our preparedness strategy that helps us alleviate pressure on the health care system generally and enables hospitals to focus on non-COVID patients,” Baker said after touring the field hospital that the National Guard is establishing at the DCU Center in Worcester.

At full capacity, it is expected to be able to accommodate 220 patients.

Baker also announced he will have more to say soon about plans to establish a field hospital in Lowell in conjunction with Lowell General Hospital.

Including all hospital patients, 73 percent of the 11,000 non-ICU beds in Massachusetts hospitals were occupied and 56 percent of the 1,800 ICU beds were full as of Tuesday, according to the Department of Public Health.

The northeast part of the state appears to be under the most stress — its ICU capacity is maxed out and 82 percent of its non-ICU beds are already full.

In central Massachusetts, 75 percent of the 1,200 non-ICU beds are occupied and 67 percent of its ICU beds are full, both higher than the statewide average.

“We don’t have shortages of PPE and ventilators and all of that stuff, but we definitely have a squeeze going on for beds and we unfortunately also have a squeeze going on with health care staff,” Worcester Medical Director Dr. Michael Hirsh said on Talk of the Commonwealth.

On Labor Day, as Baker has pointed out previously, there were 178 COVID-19 patients hospitalized. As of Tuesday, there were 126 people with COVID-19 who required a ventilator to breathe for them or to help them breathe, and a total of 1,259 people were hospitalized in Massachusetts with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

This is a developing story.