On Friday, April 10, the first patients are to arrive at Boston Hope, a medical center recently constructed inside the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

A view inside Boston Hope
 The hospital was constructed inside the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

The thousand-bed hospital will serve post-acute COVID-19 patients and homeless patients with COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization in an acute care facility. The effort, to be led largely by Partners HealthCare, involves partnerships among Boston Health Care for the Homeless, the office of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and the office of Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

Retired Brig. Gen. Jack Hammond, executive director of the Home Base Program, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital program, leads the build-out and operations of the center, and Jeanette Ives Erickson, RN, DNP, Mass General chief nurse emerita, serves as co-medical and operations director. They discussed the challenges and opportunities ahead:

How will the hospital be staffed?

This is a highly collaborative effort in which we will draw from the Boston-area Partners HealthCare hospitals, the Massachusetts Medical Association, staffing agencies and the Department of Defense. Every Boston-area teaching hospital has sent resources to support this mission and schools of nursing, including the MGH Institute of Health Professions, have offered resources.  

What are the biggest challenges you anticipate in running this hospital?

A view inside Boston Hope
Patient cots at the ready inside "Boston Hope"

The challenges we foresee are ensuring that we have all the proper resources to safely care for the homeless population; adequate supplies of PPE to safeguard the brave men and women working at the site and maintaining a robust staff that will allow us to sustain operations for an extended period.

What are the benefits this hospital is providing by serving both as a step-down unit and a place for homeless people with COVID-19?

It is extremely important that we are able to isolate and care for the unsheltered population to help flatten the curve, and to provide our area hospitals a relief valve to create more available space for those who require life-saving acute care.