WORCESTER (CBS) — The DCU Center in Worcester will be transformed into a 250-bed field hospital this week. The facility will be used to treat coronavirus patients, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday.

Baker said Massachusetts has requested approval to build three field medical stations in order to expand existing hospital capacity. The federal government approved the facility in the former Worcester Centrum, which will be run by UMass Memorial Health Care in partnership with local and state governments.

The DCU field hospital is not intended to treat the critically ill, but “lower-acuity patients who still need monitoring,” Baker said.

“We have to get this done,” said Dr. Eric Dickson, President of UMass Memorial Health Care. “Once the surge hits, you can’t set up a field hospital then. You’ll be totally overwhelmed.”

Three tractor-trailers will arrive in Worcester Wednesday with the necessary gear and equipment to start building the field hospital.

“This facility is another important building block in our efforts to expand existing health care capacity and we are actively identifying other sites and partners for two other facility locations,” Baker said.

Worcester County has reported 390 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to the latest state numbers.

With the surge expected over the next two weeks, even the most experienced medical professionals are on edge. “I don’t think anybody’s life experiences quite prepared them for this,” Dr. Dickson said. “We’ve never seen this in our lifetime.”

The state is also working with long-term care facilities to set up dedicated spots for coronavirus patients, Baker said.

 

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