By Christina Hager

WORCESTER (CBS) – “We put the call out, and everybody responded,” said Pete Lancette, Chief Nursing Officer at Worcester’s COVID-19 field hospital, which just popped up for the second time during the pandemic inside the DCU Center.

Friday was orientation day for dozens of medical workers, many from across the country. “Just basically to help out and be a part of history really,” said Jeff Russell, a respiratory therapist from North Carolina. He became sick himself while treating patients for COVID-19 months ago, and he says that’s what drives him to be part of the solution. “I said, look, I’ve got to be a part of this, you know, I don’t want to just step out of life, so I decided this is what I do, and why not go do it?”

Jeff Russell at Worcester field hospital (WBZ-TV)

He’ll be helping patients in a ventilation room that’s a new addition since the field hospital opened during the first surge last spring. “The entire area’s negative pressure,” explained Medical Director, Dr. John Broach. “This is pulling air in and filtering it as it comes out.”

“Our first go-round here we noticed that the patients want to interact with staff and other patients,” said Lancette, walking through a new patient lounge area. “We really encourage them to get up, ambulate, and move about, and it really helps the healing process,” he said.

Health care workers at DCU Center in Worcester (WBZ-TV)

Future staffers walked through the building, learning the ins and outs of the arena-turned-hospital, two days before it’s set to open Sunday. Every time they leave, they have to go through a series of three doors. “The negative pressure essentially evacuates the area of any of the COVID,” explained Russell. It will be his exit for the next eight to 12 weeks.

“There’s a lot of people who are scared and I think I have the ability to make them not feel as scared,” said Russell. “I’m just proud to be able to have a chance to help.”

Christina Hager