Hospitals at capacity. Cranston field hospital opening

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PROVIDENCE – As the demand for hospital beds rises with an increase in COVID patients, a field hospital in Cranston will begin taking patients Monday afternoon, according to a spokeswoman.

Care New England will operate the 353-bed field hospital on Sockanosset Cross Road in Cranston. The site is for COVID patients who aren’t critically ill. If patients get more sick, they will be transferred to Kent Hospital in Warwick, also operated by Care New England.

On Monday morning, the Emergency Alert System was used and Rhode Islanders were sent the message, “RIGOV COVID ALERT: Hospitals at capacity due to COVID. Help the frontline by staying home as much as possible for the next two weeks. Work remotely if you can, avoid social gatherings, get tested. If we all decrease our mobility, we will save lives. Learn more about RI on Pause at reopeningRI.com/pause” 

The emergency alert sent out on Monday to Rhode Island (Photo: The Providence Journal)

On Friday, the Rhode Island Department of Health reported 11 coronavirus deaths and 1,637 additional cases of COVID-19 over the previous two days. 

That brought the total toll in the state to 1,346 deaths and 53,954 known cases. 

There were 319 COVID-positive patients in Rhode Island hospitals on Wednesday, the most recent day for which data were available, down from 357 reported two days earlier. Thirty-seven were in intensive care; 23 were on ventilators.

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Rhode Island has established two field hospitals meet the demand for beds as hospitals reach capacity for COVID patients. A field hospital for COVID patients has also been set up at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence.

Dr. Paari Gopalakrishnan, chief medical officer at Kent Hospital, will run the Cranston field hospital. He said last week that tests and drills were being run at the site and would continue through the weekend.

“Initially, lower acuity patients with COVID-19 will be transferred to the Field Hospital from Kent Hospital to continue their hospitalization and recovery,” he said in a statement.  “We feel that this will allow us to care for all the patients who are seeking medical attention at Kent Hospital.”

The hospital will have one physician for every 50 patients and one nurse for every 25. Care New England will use external agencies, SkillsRI, and internal volunteers to staff the site.

James E. Fanale, president and CEO of Care New England, said opening the field hospital “will insure that our patients receive the attention and care they need, in a safe environment.”

The Cranston field hospital was built in late March at a former Citizens Bank call center as the virus was taking hold in the United States. It was ready to accept patients in late April, but never had to be used.

The field hospital at the Rhode Island Convention Center was also built this spring but never used for patients. Officials also planned to develop a field hospital at a former Lowe’s store in Quonset but that was never finished.

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