Government officials tour UMass Dartmouth field hospital

Apr 29, 2020

Massachusetts Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Representatives Bill Keating and Joseph Kennedy III — along with State Rep Christopher Markey and other officials — visited the UMass Dartmouth Tripp Athletic Center on April 28 for a tour of the new field hospital, according to a press release.

The 98-bed facility was set to open on Wednesday. It was put together in two weeks and will be used if needed for a surge in coronavirus patient volume, officials said. According to the release, it is the fifth field hospital established in the state since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“Our administration is committed to providing patients and frontline health care workers with the resources and care necessary to continue battling Covid-19,” Polito said. “This facility will support ongoing efforts to establish field hospitals throughout the Commonwealth and we are grateful for to UMass Dartmouth and Southcoast Health for their collaboration and hard work to protect residents and communities.”

The field hospital is a partnership between the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, UMass Dartmouth and Southcoast Health and will be staffed and supplied by Southcoast physicians and providers, nurses and clinical and operational personnel.

UMass Dartmouth will provide food services for patients and employees, as well as external security. MEMA installed generators, portable restroom and shower facilities, washers and dryers and air conditioning units.

Chancellor Robert E. Johnson said that he was proud of the university’s participation. “We will get through these unprecedented times together and be stronger for it,” he said.

“Southcoast could not ask for a better partner than Chancellor Johnson and the entire UMass Dartmouth community,” Keith Hovan, President and CEO of Southcoast Health, said during the tour. “While we hope this facility will not be desperately needed, it represents the aggressiveness of our preparation and the scope of our response. We’re grateful to all who made it possible, especially our frontline healthcare workers.”

Along with Polito, Keating, Kennedy, and Markey, other elected officials on Tuesday’s tour included State Representatives Antonio Cabral, Christopher Hendricks, and Paul Schmid and Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan.

“UMass Dartmouth has been transforming lives for years,” Keating said. “Now, they’re working to save lives by partnering with Southcoast Health, where all our heroic health care workers on the front lines are dedicated to keeping us safe.”

According to the release, Dr. Will Blair will serve as the field hospital’s medical director. Kelly Shanley, RN, Director, will act as operations leader. And Bill Tavares, Emergency Department RN, will serve as nurse leader.