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Steward Health Care System to open nation's first "dedicated care center" to only treat COVID-19 patients

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | March 17, 2020
DALLAS, March 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Steward Health Care has taken a very systematic, proactive and comprehensive approach to balance the need of accommodating a rise in COVID-19 patients, while maintaining the level and quality of care for all our patients and the communities we serve.

Our response strategy to COVID-19 has included three distinct stages.

First, our preparations began months ago, when the virus initially emerged in the United States. Steward launched a substantial program to acquire and stockpile specialty equipment required to treat COVID-19 patients - including ventilators and personal protective equipment. Many of those resources have been strategically distributed to our hospitals already. A significant amount of our resources remains centralized, ready to be deployed or redeployed across our different regions if and when they are needed. While we have only treated 10 confirmed COVID-19 inpatients across our more than 7,000 beds nationwide to date, we are prepared for an influx.

Second, because we understand that hospitals need to continue to care for sick patients who don't have COVID-19 – and to keep our emergency rooms as free from COVID-19 as possible, we have instituted remote testing facilities, including "drive through" testing centers, so that suspected patients do not have to go into a hospital setting for testing and risk infecting other patients. Steward has launched 3 drive-through testing centers in Utah, and other remote testing sites will be activated this week in Massachusetts and Florida. At our "drive-through" locations, patients referred by their doctors will be able to remain in their cars to be swabbed and screened for the virus. Utilizing remote testing sites allows local emergency rooms to maintain capacity to treat all other patients in emergent situations.

Third, in areas where the patient impact has become more endemic, such as Eastern Massachusetts, we are proactively preparing to handle any influx in COVID-19 patients. Steward is announcing the establishment of designated hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients -- the first being Carney Hospital in Boston.

Beginning on Tuesday, March 17, Steward Health Care's Northeast division will begin to transform Carney Hospital into the nation's first "Dedicated Care Center" for treating patients who test positive for COVID-19. Carney Hospital's conversion will include the creation of negative pressure patient wards, enhanced patient isolation protocols, and the marshaling of specialty equipment needed to treat critical COVID-19 cases - including an increased supply of ventilators and personal protective equipment.

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