RI field hospitals to close as new COVID-19 cases, admissions decline

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As Rhode Island ramps up its COVID-19 vaccination efforts, the state has seen a steady decline in new cases and hospitalizations.

In fact, hospital admissions are down 47% since last month, according to state officials. As a result, they announced Monday that the field hospitals in Providence and Cranston will once again be taken out of service.

The two facilities began accepting “low-acuity COVID-19 patients” in late November to ease the burden on hospitals and other health care centers.

The last day of patient care at the Rhode Island Convention Center will be Friday, Feb. 26, according to the Health Department, while the Cranston site is expected to shut down within the next two to three weeks.

“There was this need during this last surge, to open them and even though people are getting vaccinated, even though the numbers are low right now, there is no reason why those numbers can’t rise again,” Dr. Selim Suner from Lifespan said.

Once all of the patients are discharged, each field hospital will be cleaned and sanitized, officials said, but the medical equipment and supplies will remain there in case another surge in hospitalizations requires them to be reactivated.

“The site will remain in a state of readiness where it could be quickly and easily operationalized again, should another surge create such need,” Lifespan President and CEO Timothy Babineau said.

Health officials say since the field hospitals opened, they’ve treated a total of 516 patients.

The Department of Health added that since January, FEMA is covering 100% of the costs associated with the field hospitals.

Below is the full statement from Dr. Babineau:

“This week, Lifespan is preparing to close the Alternative Hospital Site (AHS) at the Rhode Island Convention Center, likely at the end of the week, as numbers of COVID-positive patients meeting its care criteria have diminished. Since the site opened December 1, our AHS staff have provided hospital-level care to 516 COVID-19 patients. The value of having extra beds in a dedicated COVID facility cannot be understated. Use of the AHS helped keep our exceptionally busy hospitals from reaching a true crisis point through these last three months, relieving pressure from the emergency departments at Rhode Island Hospital, The Miriam Hospital and Newport Hospital, and allowing us to keep more inpatient beds dedicated to the everyday care and service that our patients need, irrespective of the pandemic.

“The site will remain in a state of readiness where it could be quickly and easily operationalized again, should another surge create such need. We remain grateful to Governor Gina Raimondo and Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander Scott, for their leadership throughout this pandemic, and in particular for their foresight and partnership in implementing this important reserve capacity for our healthcare system that benefitted patients and the community.”

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Providence

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