Preparations start to re-open Cranston field hospital

CRANSTON, R.I. (WLNE) – More than 300 beds fill what used to be the former Citizens Bank Call Center, now turned into a field hospital for overflow coronavirus patients.

Governor Gina Raimondo ordered preparations to start at the Cranston field hospital. The state’s COVID-19 hospital bed capacity is currently at 84%. She expects hospital beds to fill up in as soon as three weeks.

The state’s top leaders joined in the facility painting a bleak picture of what things could look like. Dr. Laura Forman with Kent Hospital will be tasked with running the field hospital.

“Standing here in a field hospital which we could’ve avoided, standing here thinking about the lives of the people who will be here, thinking about putting our loved ones in this situation, thinking of putting our staff in this situation, it’s really difficult to wrap our heads around this,” Dr. Forman said.

Dr. Forman says she’s seen first hand what the hospitals look like now and says we’re not far from overflow.

“Hospitals are full, patients are scared, and staff is really tired. We’re exhausted and have been at this since March,” Dr. Forman said. “I think many Rhode Islanders don’t know someone who’s died of COVID, but hospital staff members do. We’ve had staff members die of COVID, we’ve sat there with patients who have died of COVID and patients who are incredibly ill will COVID.”

According to Shannon Sullivan, CEO of Women & Infants, the field hospital will likely act as an acute care hospital accepting non-critical patients. The Cranston location first opened at the end of March, but never actually took in patients.

Since, it remained set up with equipment and supplies stored here. Their main concern now is figuring out staffing.

“In the spring, we were in a different situation,” Sullivan said. “Elective surgeries had been ramped down; primary care offices were seeing fewer patients, so we had a lot more providers in the community that thought they might be able to help us. Now, it’s re-identifying who may be able to come in and help at this time.”

Department of Administration Director, Brett Smiley, says the field hospital is a huge effort for the state to keep up and running. It cost $8-million to open and about $3-million each month to keep operating.

While the state is in full prep mode, they hope they can get through to people one last time.

“It’s literally life and death,” Smiley said. “We need Rhode Islanders to get back to the same kind of rigorousness we saw over the summer.”

Categories: Coronavirus, Cranston, News, Rhode Island