Members of the National Guard worked to set up a temporary 250-bed field hospital inside the main convention hall at the DCU Center in Worcester to treat coronavirus patients, health officials said Wednesday.
Eric Dickson, chief executive of UMass Memorial Health Care in Worcester, said the temporary hospital is meant to serve patients who are too sick to go home but not needing higher level care available at one of the center’s three regional hospitals.
UMass Memorial is expecting a surge of sick patients the next two weeks and is also doubling capacity in their intensive care units, he said. The health care system is actively recruiting medical personnel to staff the new hospital from local medical, nursing, physician assistant and pharmacy schools as well as seeking traveling nurses.
”It’s a lot of people we have to recruit, train in a short period of time,’’ he said. “That’s our biggest challenge.”
The news comes as the number of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 climbed to 115 in Worcester, the state’s second-largest city.
The temporary hospital is a collaboration between health officials and the state, city and federal government. Dickson said workers are currently unloading equipment provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He is hoping the trucks come with enough personal protection equipment to make the center viable.
Worcester is expected to be one of at least three temporary centers created throughout the state. Massachusetts officials could not be reached immediately to say where the other two centers will be located.
Gov. Charlie Baker, speaking from the DCU Center on Wednesday, disclosed plans to set up another medical center at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to bolster the capacity of the health care system.
Dickson urged medical personnel to reach out if they are able to join his team.
“We know that burden of disease is going to increase significantly over the course of the next two weeks,’’ he said. “If we don't have the people to staff the DCU, we are not going be able to provide the care.”
Includes reports from Katie Lannan of State House News Service.