A Texas-based health care system announced Tuesday that it was dedicating one of the hospitals in its Boston-area network to treating all its patients with Covid-19, taking special measures to clear the air of contamination and increasing its supply of ventilators and personal protective equipment.
The goal is to ensure that people who are hospitalized with severe Covid-19 infections can receive the dedicated care some require, as well as to allow regular operations at the company’s other sites.
The company, Steward Health Care, said Carney Hospital, located in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, would become a “dedicated care center” for treating patients with Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Patients at Carney with the infection will be treated on one floor blocked off for cases of the infection, according to the Boston Globe. Steward Health Care said, among other measures, crews are adding negative pressure systems that clear the air of any contamination.
Tapping one hospital in a network to handle Covid-19 is just one approach hospitals are taking as they prepare for an expected surge of cases. Others have also allotted certain floors to treat the disease, and have canceled elective surgeries and other procedures that can be delayed and postponed some appointments.
“We are prepared for an influx,” Steward Health Care said, though, as of now, the company’s hospitals nationwide have treated just 10 patients with confirmed infections. The company, which is based in Dallas, has 35 community hospitals in nine states.
“A significant amount of our resources remains centralized, ready to be deployed or redeployed across our different regions if and when they are needed,” the company said.
The concern is that a crush of Covid-19 patients could require all of a hospital’s resources and equipment. Though it’s estimated that only a few percent of infections cause critical disease, a rapid spread of the virus throughout communities could still leave thousands of patients requiring intensive care and needing to be put on ventilators for long stretches of time.
Already, some hospitals have reported shortages of personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, and gowns, and some providers have said they have resorted to cleaning and reusing supplies they would have normally discarded. Though the availability of supplies varies around the country, some facilities have said they’re facing a lack of basic materials as well, including nasal swabs that are needed to conduct test for the virus.
Correction: An earlier version of this story cited Steward Health Care as saying Carney Hospital would become the nation’s first “dedicated care center.” The headline also incorrectly stated that the hospital itself would be converted into a Covid-19 treatment center.