In this week's Insider News, we are sharing local stories from Massachusetts hospitals and our parent organization, Partners HealthCare, around coronavirus preparedness and treatment. Keep reading to learn about the Boston Hope Medical Center, new coronavirus drug trials, and more.
The Boston Hope Medical Center is now open. Located inside the BCEC, the 1,000 bed hospital is dedicated to post-acute coronavirus care and homeless patients who do not require hospitalization. The project is being lead by Partners HealthCare together with Boston Health Care for the Homeless and the offices of Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.
The hospital is staffed by Partners HealthCare hospitals in the Boston area, the Massachusetts Medical Association, staffing agencies and the Department of Defense. Health care workers interested in volunteering can visit partners.org/bostonhope to learn more.
By providing a place for Boston's unsheltered population to isolate and recover, the city hopes to control the spread and free up space in area hospitals for patients who require live-saving care.
In a video interview with Boston 25 News, Kevin Whitney, DNP, RN, Chief Nursing Officer at Newton-Wellesley Hospital discusses how the hospital is preparing for the surge in patients with COVID-19.
Whitney describes NWH as "very prepared" for the surge. The hospital has tailored its emergency operations plans to prepare the emergency department, ICU, and med surge units for an increase in COVID-19 positive patients. The hospital has also opened a second ICU for patients who require ventilation.
A majority of patients have minor to moderate symptoms and are eventually discharged, while 15-20% require critical care, including ventilators.
With vaccines for coronavirus still a year away from FDA approval, the search for existing drugs that can help patients recover from COVID-19 is a key focus for researchers around the world. At Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, a randomized trial of the antiviral drug favipiravir will help doctors study its effectiveness.
The trial will involve 50-60 patients across the three hospitals, with one group receiving the drug alongside normal care, and a control group receiving standard COVID-19 care.
The drug, commonly known by the brand name Avigan, is typically used as treatment for the flu. It comes highly recommended by the Japanese government and medical authorities in China. Dr. Keith T. Flaherty of MGH has called it "one of the highest-priority studies" they are undertaking.