The state will reopen the field hospital at Worcester's DCU Center next month to handle any overflow of COVID-19 patients.
Governor Charlie Baker made the announcement at his regular Covid-19 press briefing, saying the recent surge in cases warranted reactivating the field hospital, which was one of several opened across the state last Spring. The Worcester field hospital was decommissioned in June after the state’s first wave of Covid-19 cases subsided.
The Massachusetts National Guard will install 240 beds to be ready for patients in early December. UMass Memorial Medical Center, which previously administered patient care at the DCU Center, will resume that responsibility.
Appearing with Governor Baker, UMass Memorial president Eric Dickson said their main medical facility in Worcester is now full and some elective procedures are being cancelled.
Dickson said UMass Memorial, the largest hospital in central Massachusetts, is no longer able to accept referrals from smaller hospitals that rely on it.
"And that is because we haven't all followed the rules,”Dickson said. “And so we will stand up, once again, the DCU field hospital, and once again, I will have to ask our caregivers to rise to the occasion and to take care of our communities when they need us most."
Samantha Phillips, the governor’s emergency management chief said the state will explore opening more field hospitals as the situation gets worse. That could include the 1,000-bed ‘Boston Hope Medical Center,’ which operated at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center until it also was decommissioned in June.
Throughout his Friday press conference, Governor Baker again urged residents to act responsibly in informal settings. which he says are the primary venues for transmitting the virus.
"People need to change their behavior and get serious about who they spend time with, how they act, and why Massachusetts is at risk, primarily because of a lot of the things people do when they put down their guard," Baker said.
In an unrelated matter, Baker declined to say whether he would veto part of the House's budget bill passed Thursday night that would allow abortions for patients over 15 years old without a parent's permission, as well as allow the procedure in cases of lethal fetal anomalies.