REVERE (CBS) – Sitting in isolation, Angel Hernandez recalls when he started feeling sick. “I had a fever and headaches. I decided to get checked in case I had the virus. I didn’t want get my dad sick or someone else,” Hernandez said.
The 32-year-old shares a small Chelsea apartment his dad and a roommate. But he’s been quarantined at a Revere hotel since Monday after he tested positive for the coronavirus.
“I’m very grateful for the staff here and to God. I know there are people who won’t have a chance,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez is one of 19 patients currently staying at the Rt. 1 Quality Inn. The safe isolation site, opened its doors last week, and can take up to 140 patients. Conference rooms are turned into makeshift triage areas, nurses are trained often, especially before shifts, and patients present themselves to the doorway of their room for the monitoring of certain symptoms.
State and city officials partnered with Massachusetts General to serve the residents of hard hit communities like Chelsea, Revere and Lynn.
The coordinated effort allows for security to guard the site’s entrance, meals to be provided daily and a dedicated medical staff to tend to the needs of the sick 24/7.
“We provide the care that keeps them out of the emergency department. Treating their respiratory status, treating their cough, their sore throat, fever and headaches seems like very simple things,” said the site’s head nurse Jacquelyn Nally. “But when we don’t treat those things their condition escalates.”
Nally, an MGH nurse, has extensive experience in disaster response.
Overseeing the site’s clinical care is the medical director of MGH Chelsea, Dr. Dean Xerras.
“This is a little bit different, this is the ambulatory front-line in the community to try to fight this disease,” said Dr. Xerras. “We know that vulnerable populations like the community of Chelsea are generally disproportionately affected by disease. What COVID-19 did for us is really magnify that.”
That’s why the operation is critical in the state’s response to manage the pandemic and stem the spread of the virus, especially in high density areas.
“To launch a hotel like this in days and to have MGH offer their support for the clinical oversight is just an amazing show of solidarity,” Dr. Xerras said.