‘Milestone’ reached as field hospital at Worcester’s DCU Center closes

It won't be completely broken down, Worcester's city manager said, in case it's needed for a second surge during the summer.

WORCESTER, Mass. — Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. announced a milestone in the fight against COVID-19 as the field hospital at the DCU Center closes Wednesday.

“That’s a milestone here, and I think that’s a good sign that we see the need for that facility to be able to be mothballed,” Augustus said at a press conference Tuesday.

There are currently six patients being treated at the field hospital. Augustus said they will all be either discharged or transferred to nearby hospitals to continue treatment by the end of the day Wednesday.

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Augustus said just because the facility, which was erected in April in about a week, is being shut down doesn’t mean it will be completely cleaned out.

“We are talking now about whether we have the facility maintained in terms of not breaking everything down, leaving it there in case there’s a surge over the course of the summer or over the course of the fall,” Augustus said. “We’d remove the staff and some of the elements but leave the facility standing should we need it for resurgence in the coming months.”

Augustus and others have said the field hospital served its purpose, and had it not been created, at least one nearby hospital may have been overwhelmed with patients.

“They’ll [DCU Center] have seen and discharged close to 150 patients at this point,” Umass Memorial Health Care CEO Dr. Eric Dickson told Boston 25 News in an interview last week. “They were a critical part of our operations early on.”

The field hospital was equipped to treat 250 patients and members of the homeless population who tested positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Eric Dickson, president and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care, said "this is a disease that lingers," and keeping surge capacity open, like the DCU field hospital, will help prepare for a potential second surge of cases.

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