The first case of community-spread COVID-19 in the United States was detected in February of this year.
Within a month, all 50 U.S. states had confirmed coronavirus cases and the numbers began doubling by the day in areas like California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. The rapid spread of the virus gave healthcare facilities little time to adapt and supply themselves with both equipment and facilities. One of the biggest risks of a significant incline in cases at a single time is limited ICU beds, equipment such as respirators and personal protective equipment, and inadequate space to physically put patients.
However, the government at the local, state, and federal levels continues to work together with local facilities, existing healthcare facilities, and manufacturers to supply the space and equipment that healthcare workers so desperately need during the COVID-19 patient surge. We’ve also seen non-healthcare businesses, such as colleges and universities, give up spaces to support the healthcare system during the pandemic. Tufts, New York University, and Middlebury College are among those offering up space to support rising healthcare needs.
In response to rising COVID-19 cases in Boston and throughout Massachusetts, the state is providing additional services by re-opening Boston Medical Center East Newton Pavilion Center and utilizing the space for quarantine and medical care for the city’s homeless population. The Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) owns the building, which has been out of commission since 2018. By working with numerous contractors and partners, DCAMM has made it possible to turn this closed hospital into a fully functional hospital for Boston’s homeless population during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The goal for getting the building up and running as quickly as possible was to provide safe and functional spaces for Boston’s homeless population that may test positive for COVID-19 but not require full in-patient services. Despite not needing hospitalization, COVID-positive patients are still ordered to self-quarantine at home. Since this is not possible for the homeless, they will be provided shelter in the re-opened facility. The occupancy will span across multiple floors with just over 300 beds available and will be key in decreasing the strain on local hospitals that need to focus their attention on more extreme cases.
EBI’s assisted in DCAMM’s COVID-19 rapid response efforts in a number of ways, including reviewing and approving cleaning protocols, providing recommendations for the decontamination process, and how the selected contractor should develop their work scope and plan, thus ensuring the safety of the contractors and construction workers converting the space. EBI also provided post-decommissioning assessment services, on-site coordination and facilitation of cleaning services, a mold assessment, and a review of the post-cleaning verification sampling plan and report.
DCAMM, EBI, and all involved parties collaborated to ensure the highest level of safety for everyone working, residing, or involved in the new healthcare center. Darin Goodwin, a Senior Environmental Health and Safety Consultant at EBI Consulting, was instrumental in EBI’s involvement in the project by providing on-site coordination between DCAMM, S/L/A/M, Clean Harbors, and numerous other outside agencies. The project timeline was fast-tracked, efficient, and impressive; showcasing Boston’s support for its citizens in a new world.