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Here’s a look inside one of RI’s COVID-19 field hospitals


NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) ─ As the number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations continues to rise, the state is working to quickly set up three triage centers in anticipation of a surge in cases.

Eyewitness News on Tuesday toured one of those centers located inside an old Lowe’s building in Quonset. The other two are slated to open in the R.I. Convention Center in Providence and the old Citizen’s Bank building in Cranston.

David Schnell with the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) said the three field hospitals will provide additional beds for patients who are experiencing acute symptoms, as well as those who are recovering but need additional treatment.

He said deciding which buildings can be utilized as triage centers is no easy task.

“We had to look at fire suppression, ventilation, HVAC, heating, things like that and how we can enhance utilities and get closer to a health care setting and what we’re looking for,” Schnell explained.

The field hospitals will be staffed by volunteers from the Rhode Island Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT).

The plan for the Quonset triage center, according to DMAT’s Brooke Lawrence, is to have five to seven physicians, as well as 20 to 30 nurses, on hand. She said it will also be staffed with pharmacists, social workers and discharge planners.

Joe Reppucci, with Russell Phillips & Associates, said the field hospital is set up within one room and is an open ward, so nurses don’t have to go room-to-room to check on patients.

“This idea here is so people would have more open space,” Reppucci explained.

Though the field hospitals are being built quickly to meet the demands of a potential surge, Lawrence said all patients and their families can be rest assured that they will still receive the same quality of care as they would in a hospital.

“You’ll be in the best care possible with a lot of very skilled people,” Lawrence said.

The field hospital in Quonset is scheduled to open April 18. Schnell said anyone who is experiencing symptoms should not come to the field hospital but instead call their doctor for further guidance.

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