You may have seen in the news this week that hospitals in Massachusetts now are “feeling the wave hitting” of the COVID-19 tsunami that we’ve been expecting. I can confirm that all of our UMass Memorial Health Care hospitals are experiencing an increase in the number of patients we are seeing and the severity of the disease. As concerning as this is, I want to reassure you that UMass Memorial is extremely well prepared to weather this storm. Why do I believe that? Here are a few reasons:
First-in-the-State: I’m pleased to share that we were the first-in-the-state to safely move homeless patients to a COVID-only homeless shelter in an effort to slow the spread of disease to this very vulnerable population. We were also the first to partner with a skilled nursing facility – the Beaumont Rehabilitation Center in Worcester – to transition them to a COVID-only facility for recovering patients. Perhaps most impressively, we were the first in the state to stand up a separate COVID-only field hospital at the DCU Center in Worcester. To see 50,000 square feet of empty space become a 216-bed hospital complete with an ICU and patient showers in just eight days is beyond amazing to me, and that’s all because of our exceptional teams of problem solvers who worked fast and furiously to do so.
If you want an overview of how it all came together, check out this virtual tour video our team produced. In the week before we opened the field hospital, representatives from Mass General Brigham (formerly known as Partners), Bay State Health, Cape Cod Hospital, and South Shore Hospital came to tour the field hospital, ask questions, and see what we accomplished to take back to their own field hospital sites. The spirit of collaboration among our state’s health systems that has come from this crisis is palpable, and I sincerely hope it continues long past our current situation. After all, we all have the same goal – to save as many lives as we possibly can from the scourge that is COVID-19.
Our Amazing Caregivers: The second reason I’m confident we can weather this storm is because we have 14,000 caregivers who are completely devoted to caring for our patients under these extraordinary circumstances. They do so under immense pressure and knowing they are putting themselves and their families at risk. There is no other way to describe that kind of commitment except calling it selfless and heroic. My wife and I both continue to care for patients in the Emergency Department, so we are privileged to work alongside some of those heroes.
Humbled by our Community: The third and last reason I know we will make it through this crisis is because of the unbelievable show of support we’ve received from the communities we serve. While we’re all exhausted by the enormity of this crisis response, these acts of kindness and encouragement give us brief moments of solace and joy. It’s humbling to read the kind notes of well wishes, to accept the donations of much-needed supplies (and delicious snacks), and stand next to our caregivers as parades of community members, friends, and neighbors drive by each of our hospitals, honking their horns and cheering us on. To see some of the uplifting messages we’ve received, please visit our “Gratitude Gallery.”
With Gratitude: We also are extremely grateful for the outpouring of donations to our UMass Memorial COVID-19 Response Fund and our in-kind donations. To date, we’ve received $1.5 million in gifts and pledges to this fund to help offset our expenses incurred by the crisis. If you have contributed to this fund, please know we are eternally grateful. We’ve received a generous supply of desperately needed personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, face shields, gloves and gowns. To date, we’ve received 1 million PPE items from 130 businesses and individuals! Of those 1 million items, 300,000 were masks! I’m so grateful to all of these donors who heard about the national PPE shortage and responded with such generosity. It’s this kind of generosity that will help sustain us through this crisis.
We Need Your Continued Support: While we are pleased to receive some funding from the government, it’s not nearly enough to compensate us for our losses so far due to COVID-19, and we need your continued support. While we are working closely with our legislators to continue to press for further relief aid, we still need to rely on the generosity of our communities through the UMass Memorial COVID-19 Response Fund. If you have the means to give a donation – no matter how small or large – we’ll put this funding to immediate use to get through this pandemic. For more information about how to give to our UMass Memorial COVID-19 Response Fund, visit our website at Give.UMassMemorial.org or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What has become very clear to all of us during this challenging time is that now more than ever, we need each other. Thank you for being there for UMass Memorial Health Care. Together, we can get through this!